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Vehicle Searches

Police officers often ask to conduct vehicle searches during routine traffic stops or in situations where the officer suspects a car may contain illegal items. It is important to know the guidelines regarding vehicle searches and what you can reasonably expect during a traffic stop.

Although police officers may request to search your vehicle, you have the right to certain expectations of privacy while on the road. For more information on vehicle searches and the law, contact the Appleton criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. at 414-271-9595.

Searching Your Vehicle

Typically, officers will not ask to search your vehicle if you have committed a routine traffic offense like failing to yield, failing to use a turn signal, or other minor infractions. However, they will often ask to search a vehicle if there is suspicious activity going on inside, excessive speeding, or if the driver commits an offense and has a prior criminal history.

Officers generally need a warrant to search a vehicle, but if they observe suspicious activity, they may have enough reasonable cause to request a search on this basis alone. Glove compartments and trunks may also be subject to searches, especially if the traffic offense involves an arrest (such as DWI).

In general, officers may only search a vehicle if:

  • The owner of the vehicle gives consent
  • The police officer has probable cause that the vehicle contains illegal materials
  • The officer has probable cause to believe that the contents of the car may endanger his or her safety

Contact an Appleton Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been the victim of an unlawful vehicle search, contact the Appleton criminal defense lawyers of the Law offices of Hart Powell, S.C. at 414-271-9595 to discuss your case.