According to the Fourth Amendment protection, U.S. citizens are protected
against unlawful search and seizure conducted by law enforcement. In order
for the police to search your vehicle, they need to have a search warrant,
your consent, or a valid reason. Yet, there are several circumstances
that allow police to search a vehicle without the owner's permission.
Law enforcement can search your vehicle without a warrant under the following
- Probable cause due to evidence in the vehicle
- The officer's own protection and safety necessitates a search
- The officer made an arrest
So when it comes to vehicle searches, courts often give law enforcement
more freedom compared to when police are attempting to search a dwelling
or residence. According to the “automobile exception” to the
search warrant requirement, courts have recognized that individuals have
a lower expectation of privacy when operating a vehicle compared to being
in their homes.
In addition, if law enforcement towed and impounded your car, they can
search it. This inventory search can be as extensive as police wish it
to be, and will most likely include unlocking and opening any compartments
or foxes found inside the vehicle. However, the police cannot tow and
impound your car just to perform a search.
If you have been arrested for a
DUI in Ventura County,
request a free consultation with our
Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyers at
Appel & Morse today.