According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about three percent of all traffic stops lead to a search of the driver or vehicle. Did police stop you for a traffic violation, and now you find yourself charged with a drug offense? The police may have violated your rights. If you find yourself in this situation, seek legal help right away.
When Can Police Search My Car During a Traffic Stop?
To pull you over, you must first give a police officer probable cause or a valid reason to do so. If police pull you over for a basic traffic stop, such as for speeding or a busted tail light, they can search your car under the following conditions:
- Consent: When police pull you over during a traffic stop, the officer may ask you for consent to search your car. You can refuse. Silence does not constitute consent. However, if you do consent and the officer(s) find something, by consenting you gave them the right to search. You may dispute whether you actually gave consent.
- Reasonable suspicion or probable cause: This is often the most common way that police find drug paraphernalia during regular traffic stops. If you give officers reasonable suspicion that you are hiding illegal or dangerous items, then they may legally search your car. Reasonable suspicion may sometimes constitute nothing more than an officer’s hunch. As you can imagine, this subjective standard may lead to a lot of searches.
- Warrant: Officers with an actual warrant can search your car. Warrants are court orders and hard to challenge.
What Should I Do if Police Arrest Me for Drugs After a Traffic Stop?
Immediately after your arrest or the filing of charges for drugs found during a traffic search, take control of the situation. Take care and minimize what you say. Consider the following if you find yourself in this situation:
- Immediately hire or contact a lawyer.
- Don’t talk to the police. Ask for your lawyer. Police can use the information you provide them against you.
- Don’t talk about your case to anyone but your lawyer. This includes family and friends.
- Don’t admit anything.
- Don’t return to the scene of the arrest or search.
- Don’t try to make a deal for your drug case without a lawyer.
Call a Columbia Drug Case Lawyer today
Criminal arrests and charges can lead to convictions. All of these things can damage your life forever. You need an attorney who understands drug charges, knows the court system, and can advocate for you. Don’t face your charges alone. Contact The Law Offices of Lori S. Murray today to learn your rights, or call (803) 779-4472.