Being stopped by police in Georgia can happen for many reasons. However, if the officer suspects you have committed a crime involving drugs, it’s terrifying. In this situation, it’s important to know your rights and when police can search your vehicle.
Can police stop you and immediately search your vehicle?
Police officers cannot just stop you for no reason. They need a reason to make you pull over. This could be for anything such as speeding, a light being out on your car, running a red light or not using your signal when making a turn or entering a different lane, to name a few. However, once an officer stops you, they cannot automatically begin searching your vehicle for drugs. The Fourth Amendment protects people against unlawful search and seizure.
When can police search your vehicle?
There are exceptions to the protection of the Fourth Amendment. The odor of drugs such as marijuana emanating from your vehicle is one of them. If the police officer detects such a smell, they can search your vehicle.
If paraphernalia or stolen property are in the officer’s plain view after the traffic stop, they can conduct a search of your vehicle to locate drugs.
If you are arrested after the officer makes you stop your vehicle, they have the right to search the car if they suspect that drugs are stashed inside.
A police officer can also search your vehicle if you give them express consent to do so.
What should you do if you’re stopped by police?
If you’re stopped by a police officer, the main thing to do is remain calm. Roll down your windows and be courteous. Turn off the ignition and keep both hands on the steering wheel. Answer the officer’s questions but never admit fault or offer more information than what they ask.
You should always protect your rights if you are arrested for drug offenses. Clearing your name is important for your future.