Many people wonder when a police officer can search their vehicles. In Utah and across the rest of the country, police are limited to when they can search someone’s car. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects people from unlawful search and seizures. Police must have your permission, a search warrant or a valid reason to search your vehicle or your constitutional rights will be violated.
A search warrant, though, is not always needed for police to search a vehicle.
Here are a few of the circumstances in which police can search your car in Utah:
— The officer has a reasonable belief that his or her own safety might be at stake. For example, if the officer believes there is a gun hidden inside.
— The officers performs the search after arresting you. For example, you have been arrested and the officer searches your vehicle for drugs.
— Probable causes exists for the officer to believe your vehicle contains evidence of a crime.
— You tell police it is okay to search your vehicle.
If you are stopped for a minor traffic violation, then the officer normally won’t be permitted to search your vehicle.
However, should you be arrested because of something that occurs during the traffic stop, a search incident to arrest will usually be permitted. If the police have your vehicle towed and impounded, then your vehicle will likely be searched. However, an officer cannot tow your car in order to search it.
If you believe your drug charges arose from an illegal search of your vehicle, a criminal defense attorney can provide more information. If the court finds that the search was illegal, the evidence from the search will likely be thrown out.
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