Can I Be Searched During a Routine Traffic Stop?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jun 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

If you are stopped by police for a common traffic offense like speeding, a police officer may not search your car. There are several ways, however, where a search of a motor vehicle can legally be conducted:


If you are stopped by police and the officer suspects that you may have something to hide, he can ask for your consent to search your vehicle. At this point, you actually have a 5th amendment right to remain silent if you choose to. If you do consent, the officer can search the entire car.

Reasonable Suspicion

If the police have a probable cause to believe that you are carrying some type of illegal contraband (open container, alcohol, drugs, firearms), depending on the jurisdiction your car may be searched including a locked glove compartment or trunk. This type of warrantless search of a vehicle has been upheld as an exception to the 4th amendment rule against unlawful search and seizures. It is important to note that probable cause must be something more than a feeling or a hunch. There must be tangible evidence such as a smell, a sound, or something visual.

Search Warrant

Police can detain you and wait for another officer to bring a search warrant. With a warrant, police are able to thoroughly search your vehicle.

Search Incident to a Lawful Arrest

If you are arrested, the police can search you, and your immediate area.

If you have been cited for a criminal offense, contact our office for guidance. There are often legal issues involved in the search and arrest process. Come in and discuss the facts of your case with us, as there is likely applicable defenses available to you. Contact us today to ensure your legal rights are protected.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370