If you’ve been stopped for a traffic violation, you may have been asked if you will allow your car to be searched. Many people wonder if this is a violation of their rights – after all, your car is an extension of your home. In Florida, as in other states, law enforcement has the right to search your vehicle under certain circumstances. It is helpful to know your rights before you are stopped. When stopped, you should listen to the police officer and obey any commands they give. After you have been pulled over, the officer will approach your car. You’ll be asked for your driver’s license as well as registration and proof of insurance. Provide these items when requested.

Traffic Stop

If the police officer feels that you may be driving under the influence he may ask you to step out of the vehicle. Your passengers may also be asked to leave the car. The officer will likely pat you down to ensure that you don’t have any type of weapon. At this time, he may ask you to take a field sobriety test. These tests are the common roadside tests you may be familiar with such as walking a straight line, standing on one leg, or reciting the alphabet. These perfunctory tests are used by the officer to further determine if you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If law enforcement feels you may be DUI (driving under the influence) you may be asked to submit to a blood alcohol test. This will often be a breathalyzer test but may be a blood or urine test. The legal limit in Florida for DUI is 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC).

Vehicle Search

Once your vehicle has been stopped the officer may ask for your permission to search your vehicle. This isn’t done every time a vehicle is stopped by police. It’s usually only done when the officer has reason to believe there could be illegal drugs, weapons, or alcohol in the vehicle. It is important to note that your vehicle cannot be searched without your consent or a search warrant. The police will ask you if you will consent to a vehicle search. If you consent, the police can search every part of the car including the inside and the trunk. If you don’t allow a search, the police will have to go to the trouble of getting a search warrant from a court.

Illegal Vehicle Search

In most cases, it can be difficult to fight charges that stem from a vehicle search. While you can deny a search be done, if the police have reason to believe that there is something illegal in the car they will get a warrant and search it. By denying them immediate access it may only strengthen their belief that you’re trying to hide something. What if the vehicle is towed? Sometimes your vehicle may be towed to a police lot. If this happens, the police have a right to search the vehicle. If something is found in your vehicle the driver will most likely be charged with possession. For example, the police search your vehicle and find a small bag of marijuana under the passenger seat. If you were the driver, you can still be charged with possession, even though the drugs were under another seat.

Help for a Vehicle Search

A vehicle search is typically done as part of a routine traffic stop. As a result, you may receive a ticket for a traffic violation and a criminal charge, for example, if drugs were found. Every case is different so you’ll need to talk to an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will review every aspect of the situation and will help to ensure that your rights weren’t violated. Once all the facts have been gathered and evaluated, your lawyer will assist in your defense in order to get the charges reduced or eliminated, depending on the case.