Maryland Search and Seizure | Glen Burnie, MD Defense Attorney
Find Out When a Police Officer is Entitled to Search the Interior of Your Car and Protect Your Rights
In all cases where illegal items are found in a motor vehicle, every aspect of the police interaction with the defendant should be closely scrutinized. If the vehicle is travelling on the highway and is pulled over by the police, the officer must either have at least reasonable articuable suspicion to believe that the driver of the vehicle has committed a traffic offense, or that other illegal activity is occurring. Among the reasons for a police officer to pull over a vehicle are:
- Running a red light
- Failure to drive the vehicle within a single lane
- Expired or suspended vehicle registration
- Violation of any other traffic law
If the vehicle is lawfully pulled over, the police officer is not automatically entitled to search the interior of the vehicle. There are limited circumstances under which a police officer would be permitted to search a vehicle. The police officer could request consent from the driver of the car to search the interior. The driver would have to agree to the search of the vehicle in order for the police to conduct the search.
Absent consent, the police officer would have to develop some form of suspicion in order to search the vehicle or rely upon some legal reason to search a vehicle. Below are some of the other grounds the officer could rely to conduct a search:
- Odor of marijuana coming from the interior of the vehicle.
- A reasonable belief by the officer that the occupants of the vehicle are armed and dangerous.
- Search incident to the arrest of an occupant of the vehicle.
- Pursuant to a search warrant.
Above all, it is important that an experienced defense attorney review any case where items were recovered from a vehicle.