Having a solid understanding of your legal rights in specific situations may go a long way toward helping you avoid trouble. Knowing your rights during a Missouri traffic stop may help you avoid having authorities perform a search of your car.
According to FlexYourRights.org, the rules about searching your car during a traffic stop are different than those involved with searching your home. To search your home without your permission, law enforcement officials need to be in possession of a warrant. However, this is not the case when it comes to conducting a search of your car.
When an officer has probable cause
If a law enforcement officer wants to search your car or truck during a stop and you prefer he or she does not do so, that officer may be able to search it anyway, and without a warrant, if probable cause exists. Probable cause may refer to any number of circumstances that might be indicative of illegal doings, such as seeing or smelling illegal substances in your vehicle.
When an officer lacks probable cause
When a law enforcement officer wants to look around your car during a traffic stop and does not have your permission, a warrant or probable cause, you have the right to refuse the search request. However, you may want to be careful when communicating with authorities on the scene. Sometimes, some law enforcement officials use certain tactics or strategies to convince you to allow for the search to move forward.
Make sure to be calm and polite during your interactions with law enforcement even if you refuse a request to search your car. Taking an antagonistic approach rarely works in your favor.