Can My Car Be Searched if I've Been Stopped for Speeding?

If you have been stopped for speeding in Orlando or surrounding areas in Florida, you may be curious as to whether it is legal for police to search your vehicle. Traffic stops involving a motorist who was allegedly driving over the speed limit don't normally result in a search of the vehicle, however there are situations in which a police officer or officers may search your car without a warrant.

When is this legal?

If police pull you over for speeding and have probable cause, your vehicle may be searched without police obtaining a warrant. This applies when police believe your car may contain evidence of a crime, such as drug possession or a weapon used in the commission of a crime. Basically, it is a simple matter for someone driving a vehicle to get rid of "evidence" of a crime by simply throwing it out a window or going to another location where the gun, drugs, alcohol, or other incriminating evidence can be disposed of. For this reason, unlike the requirement an officer has a warrant to search a home or other property, a vehicle may be searched when someone is stopped for speeding if probable cause exists without the need of a warrant.

What may happen when an officer writes you a speeding ticket?

In some cases, a police officer may act in a casual manner after issuing a ticket for driving above the speed limit, such as asking politely if you have any drugs, weapons, or even substantial amounts of cash in your car. How you answer the officer in this situation is important, as you don't want to provide an answer that isn't absolutely clear to the officer. For instance, if the officer asks if you mind him or her searching your vehicle, the answer "no" which you may mean as, "No, you cannot search my vehicle" may be misconstrued as, "No, I don't mind if you search my car." Therefore, it is critical you convey the message that the officer does not have your permission to search your vehicle without a warrant.

There are many situations in which a motorist has no idea whether a police officer actually has probable cause to seek a warrant. Without probable cause, a judge will not issue a warrant. Therefore, it is important to realize that if you have been stopped for speeding and question whether probable cause actually exists, never give consent. Make it clear that you will not allow your vehicle to be searched without a warrant, and refuse to answer questions or go further with any discussion without the presence of an attorney.

It all boils down to the fact police must actually have probable cause, although an officer may try to make you believe he/she has a valid reason to search your vehicle when in truth this is not the case. Never agree to a search of your vehicle when asked by police after being stopped for speeding, and consult an experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer immediately.

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