New York drivers benefit from understanding how vehicle searches are affected by the Fourth Amendment. There is a vehicle search exception to the Fourth Amendment that many drivers might not know. A police officer may search a vehicle without a warrant in most cases if the officer provides reasonable and articulable cause for the search.
An essential part of criminal defense is understanding and knowing your rights. The officer must inform the driver why the vehicle was initially pulled over, for instance, a traffic violation, driving erratically, or a broken taillight.
Suppose the officer suspects criminal behavior such as potent drugs or alcohol smells or observes visible open alcohol containers, slurred speech, or other suspicious behavior; the officer should inform the driver and can initiate a vehicle search.
Reasonable and articulable suspicion
A police officer can perform an investigatory stop on someone if they’re walking, standing or driving a vehicle. The officer must inform the person why they’re being detained.
In criminal defense, extensive knowledge of stop-and-frisk laws benefits you if you’re ever stopped or investigated by a police officer.
A reasonable and articulable suspicion is one that any person with common sense can infer and express verbally. An officer must tell you why they stopped you and what criminal behavior they suspect you of committing.
Drugs, alcohol and speeding are common offenses police officers cite when performing stop and frisk (weapons search) or vehicle searches.
Vehicle searches without a warrant
In most cases, a warrant isn’t needed to search a vehicle during a traffic stop; checkpoints and border crossings are other places your car can be searched without a warranty.
If your vehicle is stopped at a DUI checkpoint and the officer or K9 unit suspects criminal activity, your car can be searched without a warrant. However, if an officer doesn’t imagine any crime but asks your permission to search your vehicle without cause, you have the right under the Fourth Amendment to refuse the search.
Not every police encounter is clear and concise. However, compliance and respect for the law is the most intelligent way to resolve criminal matters.