Granger And Mueller Pc

Granger And Mueller Pc

January 23, 2020 Off By Glespynorson

Can A Police Officer Search My Vehicle Over A Traffic Violation?

In Most Cases, Police Officers Cannot Search A Vehicle During A Traffic Violation. However, There Are Some Exceptions.

Any time a driver in Texas violates the state’s Transportation Code, police officers can pull them over and give them a traffic ticket. This concept is pretty straightforward for motorists and everyone understands it. However, when can police officers search a vehicle? Is that something they are allowed to do during a traffic stop? This is a very common question, and many drivers do not know the answer to it.

Generally speaking, police officers cannot search your car. There are though, several exceptions that law enforcement officers often use to search someone’s vehicle. These exceptions are listed below.

With A Warrant

Every driver in America has the constitutional right to be protected from unlawful searches. This usually means that officers need to obtain a warrant that is signed by a judge before they can search a person’s property. This law, though, does not generally apply to vehicles. The idea is that a vehicle will likely be gone by the time law enforcement can obtain a warrant and so, this requirement is not necessary. Still, this does not mean that officers can search a vehicle any time they wish.


Any time a driver consents to his or her vehicle being searched, an officer can search the car. This consent must be given voluntarily by the driver and motorists must never be the victim of intimidation or harassment when allowing the search.

Probable Cause

An officer must have probable cause to stop a vehicle, and they must also have probable cause to search the vehicle. For example, if a motorist is speeding, an officer can stop the vehicle. In order to search that vehicle, officers must have probable cause that the motorist is engaging in illegal activity. For example, if the officer smelled marijuana, that provides probable cause to search the vehicle.

When Drivers Are Arrested

If a driver has been arrested, police officers may search the vehicle if they believe it contains evidence relevant to the crime for which the driver has been arrested.

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Vehicle Contains Weapons

If the police officer believe that the vehicle contains weapons, and that the driver is a dangerous person, then the officer can search the vehicle.

When A Car Is Impounded

Any time a vehicle is impounded, a vehicle can be searched by law enforcement. There is a certain policy that must be followed during inventory searches, which is what these types of searches are called.

Our Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Challenge Unlawful Searches

In most cases, police officers cannot search a vehicle over a traffic violation. Unfortunately, too often law enforcement is overzealous in their pursuit of bringing criminal charges. They attempt to use one of the above exceptions for searching a vehicle, even when they do not actually apply. When that happens, our Travis County criminal defense lawyers can help.

At Granger and Mueller, PC, we know how to challenge unlawful searches to help individuals who have been accused of a crime retain their freedom. If you are facing charges or feel as though you have been the victim of an unlawful search, call us at (512) 474-9999 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.