Can My Car be Searched if I’m Just Pulled Over for a Traffic Stop?
The police may be able to search your car if you are pulled over for virtually any and every reason. Even for no reason at all.
The two primary ways that the police are able to search your car when you are pulled over are:
Consent. Citizens may be asked for consent to search their vehicle. I f anything is found in your vehicle that indicates you have been engaged in criminal activity, you can then be charged with that crime.
Reasonable Suspicion. When police have specific factually articulable observations
that leads them to reasonably believe that you are engaged in criminal activity and that there is evidence within your vehicle, establishing that crime, they may also be permitted to search the car. This is known as the “mobile vehicle exception.”
When can a dog sniff my car?
Dogs may sniff a car without consent or a warrant. The Supreme Court has ruled that having a dog “sniff” you vehicle is not a search. As such, dog sniffs are allowed in conjunction with any traffic stop, provided that you are not held for an extended period of time waiting for the dog to be brought to the scene.
Was the wait too long, were there actual factual observations that created reasonable suspicion, did you validly consent; these are mixed issues of law and fact. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is required to preserve your rights.