If you have been stopped for a traffic violation the police may determine that other potential charges are possible. If law enforcement thinks that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the additional DUI charges may be made. The police can’t simply search your vehicle without your consent, however, there are some exceptions.

Impaired Driving

If a member of law enforcement feels you are DUI the first thing he or she may do is ask you to step out of the vehicle. If there are passengers, they may also be asked to exit the car. Once outside, the officer may ask you to take some preliminary tests, called field sobriety tests. These are simple tests designed to screen for potential impairment. If impairment is evident, the officer may request you to submit to a DUI test. The breathalyzer test is often administered roadside. It measures the blood alcohol concentration. In Florida, the legal driving limit is a BAC of 0.08%.

Vehicle Search

The police officer may ask the driver for permission to search the vehicle. If granted, law enforcement will be able to search all areas of the car including under the seats, in the glove compartment, console, and trunk. Any drugs or alcohol found in such a search will be used as evidence in court. Also, separate charges may be applied. For example, if drugs are found the driver may be charged with possession or even with intent, depending on the amount found.

Refusal of Search

While you may feel strongly about refusing to search the vehicle, the police may use other tactics to conduct the search. The police may actually see drugs or drug paraphernalia in sight. If the item is in plain sight, the police may have cause to search the rest of the car. If the vehicle is towed, the police may end up searching it once it is in their possession. When the police have reason to believe there is something illegal in the vehicle they can request a search warrant. This takes time and must be approved by a judge.

Defending Charges

If your vehicle was searched and further charges have been made based on these findings, it is important to talk to a criminal attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will review the entire case to determine whether the search was done in a legal manner. If not, any evidence collected as a result of the illegal search will not be admissible in a court case. Talk to a lawyer as quickly as possible to assist in defending charges in your case.