If you get pulled over for a routine traffic stop or minor infraction in Kentucky, you may feel like you understand what the procedure will be, but what if law enforcement asks to search your vehicle? What are your rights in a situation like this?
While law enforcement always has the right to search your vehicle if you give them permission, there are only a handful of other instances when they can do so without a warrant.
When can law enforcement search your vehicle without consent or a warrant?
According to Business Insider, there are only four reasons that law enforcement can search your vehicle without a warrant or your consent. Here is a quick guide:
- There are “exigent circumstances.” This means that an officer believes that evidence is in immediate danger of destruction.
- Evidence of a crime is in plain sight. For example, if law enforcement pulls you over and can see drug paraphernalia in “plain view,” they can search the car without a warrant.
- Law enforcement has probable cause to suspect a crime. For example, if law enforcement pulls you over and a K9 officer alerts near the trunk of your vehicle, law enforcement may have probable cause to now search the trunk without a warrant.
- If law enforcement arrests you for a crime, they then have the right to search your vehicle without a warrant.
Can you refute probable cause in court?
Because law enforcement must decide what constitutes reasonable suspicion and probable cause in each situation, there is often room to argue in court whether or not a particular circumstance met all the requirements for these legal standards.