Can I say No if a Police Officer Wants to Search My Car?
Interactions with police officers can be intimidating, even if you have nothing to feel guilty about. Police officers are trained to exert their authority and often act as if they have the power to make you do what they want you to do. There are circumstances in which it is important to know that as a private citizen you have rights that prevent police officers from stepping over the line when it comes to requests they may make. This typically applies to searches of your car, your home, or even your body and clothing.
Police officers may stop you when you are driving for several reasons.
1. They may think you have committed an offense, are in the process of committing an offense, or that you might know something about an offense.
2. It is a routine traffic stop.
3. There is a genuine reason for informing you about a danger ahead.
If you have been weaving around while driving, starting and stopping, speeding, or your engine is making a clunking noise or emitting smoke and / or flames, it would be rational for police officers to stop you and find out who you are and what you are doing. If they believe that you have committed an offense or are committing an offense then they may arrest you. If this is the case, then they have the authority to search you and / or your car.
If you drive according to state traffic rules with due consideration, then it is unlikely that you would be stopped, except in circumstances 2 and 3 above.
It is quite common for police officers to stop and question drivers for routine reasons. They may ask to see your driving license and registration documents. They do not have the right, however, to make an arbitrary search of your vehicle or search you and / or your clothing unless you are suspected of carrying a weapon.
Some police officers may abuse their authority and assume that you will accede to a request to search your vehicle. One reason why they may do that is because past experience has taught them that many ordinary citizens are unaware of their rights and may agree to a request which they do not have to simply because they feel intimidated. You do not have to agree to a search of your vehicle, your home, or your body, unless there is an arrest imminent or the police officer has a search warrant.
Be polite but firm when refusing a police officer’s request to make a search
Police officers may deliberately ‘misunderstand’ your response when refusing a request to search your vehicle or pat you down. It is always best to remain calm and polite in all dealings with the police. The best response to a request to search is something like:
“No, Sir /Madam /Officer. I do not consent to a search being made of my car / self without seeing a warrant” or
“No. I do not consent to you doing that.”
There is no guarantee that a police officer who has asked to search your vehicle or your body or clothing will take any notice of a refusal, but in most cases they will not take any further action as they are taught about a citizen’s constitutional rights.
If any interaction with the police results in an arrest, you have the right to remain silent, except give your name and address. Keep as calm as you can, then arrange to talk to renowned Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes, Esq. You can reach his office at 305-644-1800. It’s just two blocks west of the Miami Marlins ball park at 1815 NW 7th St., Miami, FL 33125.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.