What to Do If a Cop Requests a Vehicle Search - Net - Indir

What to Do If a Cop Requests a Vehicle Search

Because Americans spend so much time in their cars, it’s no surprise that cops stop a lot of us—roughly 50,000 per day and 20 million per year. If you’ve ever been pulled over (and based on those statistics, you most likely have), you know how frightening it can be. Simply put, police have complete control over a traffic stop—or at least, that’s what they want you to believe. So it’s difficult to know what to do when a cop asks to search your vehicle.

This is a scary request for most individuals, meaning that the police suspects you of doing anything criminal. On the one hand, there’s the old saying that if you have nothing to hide, you should just comply—especially in light of the fact that so many police contacts end in violence. Your automobile, on the other hand, is your private property, and you have rights over it.

When you’re calm and have access to knowledge, now is the time to think about it. It’s a poor idea to wait until your adrenaline is sky high and any attempt to Google your alternatives could be misunderstood. So, if a cop asks to search your vehicle, here’s what you should say and do.

Be courteous.

The power differential is one of the most stressful components of a traffic stop, and while most police officers will conduct themselves professionally, it’s critical that you don’t aggravate the situation by being angry or insulting. There are a few requests or directives that you should definitely, 100% obey:

When asked, show your driver’s license, insurance, and registration.

Follow detailed instructions. If the officer instructs you to exit the vehicle, comply.

That’s all there is to it. The police can also perform the following without your permission:

Examine the vehicle’s appearance and search databases to check whether it’s been reported stolen or if the registered owner (probably you) has any outstanding warrants.

Examine the interior of the vehicle visually—if something is obvious, the police will not need any other justification to conduct a search and/or arrest. If you have a gun in the passenger seat of your car, for example, the officers are perfectly justified in inspecting your vehicle, even if you have all of the necessary paperwork.

Anything else the officer asks you to do or tells you to do is in the gray area between your rights and their job. The most important thing to remember is that it is not a cop’s job to clear you. In other words, police officers are not your buddies, even when they are completely professional and performing their duties correctly. It is not in the best interests of cops to make friends with the people they stop. That implies enabling a search of your vehicle on demand is not in your best interests.

Know your rights under the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, which means that the police cannot examine your car without probable cause or your agreement.

In most instances, cops have broad jurisdiction. While police officers cannot simply assert that they have a hunch or a gut feeling, it doesn’t take much to conduct a search—all an officer needs to say is that they smelled alcohol or another substance. The first thing to remember is that if a police asks for permission to search your vehicle, they do not have probable cause. They would already be searching your vehicle if they did.

The one sentence to keep in mind

The second thing to remember is that you have complete authority to refuse authorization. Your car is your property, and you have the right to refuse a search if there is no reasonable cause. “I do not consent to a search of my vehicle” should tell you everything you need to know. If the officer believes they have reasonable grounds to search your vehicle, they can acquire a warrant over the phone in a matter of minutes.

So why are the cops asking whether they can search your vehicle? It’s the same reason they’ll inquire if you know why they pulled you over, if you’ve been drinking, or if there’s any other reason you could be in trouble (my personal favorite): They’re out angling. They want you to testify against yourself. Because their goal is to catch people who have committed crimes, not to exonerate you or show your innocence. They want to search your vehicle to discover whether you’ve committed any crimes.

In other words, whether you have a body in the trunk or have never broken a law in your life, submitting to a search of your vehicle is never in your best interests. Be courteous, yet strong in your refusal to consent. You don’t have to give a reason; simply state that you don’t consent if the officer presses you. If the police searches you anyhow, do not object. After the stop, you’ll have the opportunity to make a complaint.


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