The police can pull you over if they see you break the law. When can a routine roadside encounter lead to a request to search your vehicle?
If the police believe you have evidence of a crime, a search is the next logical step in their investigation.
What if the police ask to search the vehicle?
During a traffic stop, it is important to know that the officer remains vigilant and aware of everything you say and do. Observation is one tool officers use to ascertain if there is danger or the potential for evidence of a crime. In furtherance of this, the police may request to search your vehicle. You do not have to grant them access.
When can an officer search?
An officer can search your vehicle if you give him or her permission to do so. However, the police may conduct a search without your permission. They may conduct a limited search if they have probable cause to believe you are breaking the law. This applies to anything they observe in plain sight.
What do the police need to conduct a legal search?
While the police may conduct a legal search in the ways stated above, getting a warrant is the surefire way to ensure the search stands. This requires officers to go before a judge and give testimony as to why they believe your vehicle contains evidence of a crime. A warrant may limit what the police can search for and where they can search.
Your civil rights remain protected at all levels of a police investigation.