You are pulled over by the police who claim they can smell marijuana in your vehicle. You are asked to exit the car so that the police can perform a search of its interior. Is this legal? In many cases, the answer is “yes.”

The case of State v. Betz has answered the question that has been on the minds of many, particularly as the legalization of marijuana has become the norm in several states. What the Second District Court of Appeal said in this case is that the smell of marijuana coming from a vehicle gives the police probable cause to conduct a search. Not only of the person but of the vehicle as well.

The ruling went on to say, however, that probably cause from the smell of marijuana does not extend to any containers in the vehicle or its trunk. The police can conduct a search of the interior of a vehicle but are not permitted to open any container they find therein. They are also not permitted to ask the driver to pop the trunk.

The ruling was appealed and made its way to the Supreme Court of Florida. The court agreed. They also went on to say that a person’s behavior at the time of the traffic stop could give the police the additional probably cause necessary to search the rest of the vehicle. So what does that tell us?

If you are pulled over by the police, remain as calm as possible. Should you act guilty, expect to be treated as such. And don’t expect a court to automatically throw out evidence against you. Courts more often than not rule in favor of the police in cases such as this. This is evidenced by State v. Betz. Your best option is to remain calm and cooperative and let your attorney sort out the details.

If you are dealing with a drug arrest in Orlando, contact our offices today. A member of our team will review the details of your arrest and advise you as to your best next steps. Let us provide you with a free initial case evaluation now.

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