Can the police search your car after you’re arrested for a DUI? The police are generally only allowed to search vehicles if they have a warrant. However, there are exceptions to this rule in California. There are, in fact, several conditions that allow a law enforcement officer to search your vehicle. They may search your vehicle if:
- You give them permission to do so.
- They have “probable cause” to search the vehicle.
- They impounded your car and need to perform an “inventory search.”
Find out more about each of these situations right here.
Police Officers Can Search Vehicles with Consent
Most of the time, a police officer needs a warrant to search your vehicle. However, you may give them permission to look through your vehicle at any time. If you agree to allow a police officer to search your car, they may legally do so.
Generally, it is recommended that you do not give officers permission to look through your vehicle. You may believe that there is nothing incriminating in your car. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. Police officers may find things that you did not know you were carrying.
Note that police officers should not threaten you into offering permission to search a vehicle. You should contact a DUI lawyer if you were threatened by a police officer. Just call (310) 997-4688.
Probable Cause and Vehicle Searches in California
Police officers in California have the ability to search your vehicle if they have “probable cause.” Probable cause means that they have reason to believe that your vehicle contains evidence related to a criminal act. Assuming that your vehicle contains evidence of a crime is not enough to provide probable cause. Officers should only search your vehicle if:
- They were told by a reliable source that there was evidence of a crime in your vehicle.
- They personally observed that there was evidence of a crime in your vehicle.
- You or a passenger carried out a suspicious act.
Note that law enforcement officers may claim they had probable cause in many cases. They may not always legally have the right to search your vehicle. You should also speak with a lawyer if your vehicle was searched without your permission.
A DUI lawyer could take steps to show that the officer did not have enough cause to search your car or truck. This could allow a lawyer to block evidence gained in the illegal search. Blocking evidence could weaken the prosecution’s case. This may allow a lawyer to get your charges dismissed or reduced.
Police Officers and Inventory Searches of a Vehicle
The police may impound your vehicle after a DUI arrest. It’s unlikely they’ll let you drive your vehicle away from the scene if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is elevated. Sometimes, officers allow you to call someone else to get your vehicle. In other cases, they will have it brought to the impound lot.
Once your vehicle arrives at the impound lot, officers may conduct an “inventory search.” An inventory search is technically supposed to ensure none of your property is stolen or lost. However, officers often use this opportunity to search your vehicle for evidence.
Police officers may look in your trunk and glove box during an inventory search. They may record information about everything that they find. This includes any evidence that could indicate that you were driving under the influence. Inventory searches are legal in California.
Get Help If the Police Searched Your Car After a DUI
The police may search your car after a DUI. Sometimes, they may conduct these searches legally. In other situations, they may violate your rights. A lawyer could help you in either situation. A lawyer could dispute evidence and even work to get it blocked in some cases.
Your lawyer may be able to help you work on a plea bargain after you are accused of a DUI. Your lawyer may also take your case to court to defend you. You can focus on building your defense right now. Just reach out to a DUI lawyer in California.
Contact a Lawyer if Police Searched Your Car After a DUI
You will want legal help if the police searched your car after a DUI arrest. Take steps to get help on your side now. Just reach out to the Simmrin Law Group. You can start working with a DUI lawyer right now and find out more about how we can help during a free consultation.
Call us at (310) 997-4688. You can also complete our online contact form. We’re prepared to assess your legal needs now.