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Is it legal for a cop to search your car?

Let’s face it: It is hard to say no to a cop. Even when we know we deserve a citation – you totally paused at that stop sign, didn’t you? – we hope that compliance, manners and perhaps a little contrition, will get us out of a ticket. None of us are without fault there.

But, when it comes to more significant stops – perhaps on suspicion of DWI – while it never hurts to be polite, and in fact, it is recommended, it can’t be stressed enough that you control your rights and it is up to you to enforce them during traffic stops.

What is the Fourth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment guarantees your right against illegal searches. During a traffic stop, enforcing that right  could save you from some serious consequences.

It’s hard enough to be under suspicion of driving under the influence. Perhaps you drank much earlier, but you now believe you are capable of driving. We addressed this subject in earlier blogs. When you are stopped, should you agree to let an officer search your car?  The answer is a resounding no.

Why should I say no?

When officer’s search your vehicle, they look for any contraband such as illegal guns, etc. Any illegal items found will result in you facing extra charges. But doesn’t he need a warrant, you ask? Not when permission is explicity given.

The bottom line is this: enforcing our rights is our responsibility. In the event an officer seeks permission to search your vehicle, be smart – and just say no.


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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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