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Criminal, Family and Probate Law

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When can authorities search your car without a warrant?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

You may feel understandable anxiety as the subject of an Arkansas traffic stop, but you may be able to navigate the situation with more ease if you understand your legal rights in this situation. Knowing when you have the right to refuse a law enforcement officer’s search request – and when you do not – may go a long way in terms of helping you avoid unnecessary trouble.

Per Flex Your Rights, authorities who want to search your car during a traffic stop must have one of the following three things.

Your consent

A law enforcement officer that stops you and wants to search your vehicle may ask or encourage you to consent to the search. However, unless that officer has one of the following things, it is within your legal right to refuse the vehicle search.

Probable cause

Probable cause means an officer who stops you has reason to believe something illegal is taking place or has taken place. Possible examples include drugs or stolen property that are visible through the vehicle window. Probable cause refers to more than just a hunch or suspicion – an officer has to have some form of evidence of wrongdoing to have probable cause for a vehicle search.

A warrant

If authorities have a warrant, they may have the right to search your car even in the absence of probable cause or your consent.

No matter how you answer a law enforcement officer’s search request, make a point to remain calm and polite during the interaction to improve your odds of a favorable outcome.