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When can authorities search your car without a warrant?

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

A Texas traffic stop is often stressful, but understanding the rights you have during the stop may help you avoid a serious legal problem. If you wind up facing some type of criminal charge resulting from your traffic stop, you may be able to get around it if the law enforcement officer who stopped you acted outside of the law during the encounter.

Per FlexYourRights.org, a law enforcement officer who stops you needs to have one of three things before he or she has the right to search your vehicle. The officer must have your consent, a warrant or something called probable cause.

When the officer has probable cause

An officer may have probable cause to look around your car even if you do not give consent if he or she sees something that suggests illegal activity is taking place or contraband is inside. Even smelling something that may suggest illegal activity or contraband may be enough to constitute probable cause, giving the officer legal grounds to conduct a search.

When the officer lacks probable cause

If the officer who pulls you over does not have a warrant or probable cause and you prefer he or she not search your car, state as much. Be clear, succinct and polite when informing the officer that you do not consent to a search.

Generally, when it comes to interacting with authorities, it may serve you well to say as little as possible to avoid having your words potentially come back to bite you.