When someone is pulled over, the police are only authorized to make visual observations of your vehicle.


You never have to allow the police to search you or your vehicle. They are allowed to ask and you are allowed to refuse. Many people think that the police can search the vehicle during a traffic stop, but this is not the case.

When can they search the vehicle?

Absent the driver's consent, the vehicle can only be search if the police have either:

  • (1)Probable cause
    • If, for example, there is a firearm sitting on the back seat, then the officers are allowed to search the vehicle. They have to see something in plain sight (i.e. without rummaging around or opening doors) that indicates the need for a search.
  • (2)A search warrant
    • This is a document signed by the judge that has been covered in detail HERE (LINK)
  • (3)Arrest
    • If you are arrested, then the police can search you and your vehicle. For this reason alone, drivers should remain calm and avoid being arrested in every way.

A legal defense

These tips are provided in hopes that drivers know their rights when they are pulled over. At Michling Plaza & Associates, we believe that arming people with knowledge is the best way to avoid these situations altogether. However, if you end up facing criminal charges, know that you do not have to face them alone.

Our attorneys have handled numerous traffic citations and charges. The best thing you can do in this situation is employ a legal team to defend your rights.