What You Should Do When a Police Officer Asks to Search Your Car
by Matthew Gilligan
What are you supposed to do if a police officer asks to search your car?
First and foremost, be polite to the officer you are dealing with. And always comply with the basic requests such as handing over your license, registration, and insurance.
Also, if an officer asks you to step out of your car, you should do it.
But that’s all you HAVE to do.
Keep in mind that, without your permission, police are allowed to visually examine and exterior and interior of vehicles. So if they see something incriminating like drugs or a weapon on your seat, they can search your vehicle.
It’s important to know your Fourth Amendment rights: part of that is being protected from unlawful search and seizure which means that cops can’t search your car unless they have your permission OR probable cause.
One important thing to keep in mind: if an officer asks to search your vehicle, that means they DO NOT have probable cause, or else they’d already be doing it.
So keep the phrase “I do not consent to a search of my vehicle” in your back pocket in case you need it.
And one more thing: if an officer searches your car against your wishes, don’t resist. You can always file a complaint about the incident at a later date.