Seeing the flashing lights and hearing the siren of a police car behind you while on the road is always scary. In the best cases, these traffic stops are very brief and only involve a short conversation. In other instances, though, the stop may become much more serious, and the officer may at some point tell the driver they want to search the vehicle. If you find yourself in this situation, it is critical that you know what to do and that you understand how to protect your rights. Your Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer can assist you with any illegal search and seizure that you may be subjected to.
Vehicle Searches Under the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment protects all American citizens from unlawful search and seizures. Before law enforcement searches any property, they must obtain a search warrant to do so. That protection applies to vehicles as well, but drivers may have fewer rights when an officer wants to search their vehicle. The law recognizes that drivers could easily leave the scene if the police officer had to obtain a warrant before searching the vehicle. As such, police officers must only have probable cause to search a vehicle during a traffic stop, and they do not need to obtain a warrant.