Learn when police may search cars, what rights you have to avoid a car search, and more.
Car Searches by Police Following a Valid Stop
Lots of factors that come into play with search-and-seizure law.
Searches After Traffic Stops: Not Always Allowed
A traffic stop normally ends with a citation—the annoyed motorist simply drives away. But an officer will sometime prolong a traffic detention, in the process searching the driver’s vehicle.
Searching Passengers and Their Belongings
If police lawful stop a car, are they allowed to search passengers and their belongings? As with many legal questions, the answer depends.
Traffic Stops and Police Dog Sniffs
Can police use dogs to sniff cars for drugs when they don’t have a warrant?
Traffic Stops Based on Officer Mistakes
Police officers, like everyone else, make mistakes. It’s not necessarily rare for one to detain a motorist for a purported violation of law that actually isn’t a violation.
Police Searches of Impounded Cars
Police officers can impound your car for a variety of reasons.
Can an officer pull you over for no reason?
An officer’s pulling over a driver constitutes a detention—the driver hasn’t been arrested, but nevertheless isn’t free to leave.
Can police use a traffic stop as a pretext to search for evidence?
As long as police have a valid reason to make a traffic stop, their "true" motives are irrelevant.
Can the police attach a GPS device to my car to track my whereabouts?
Can the Police Use a Dog to Sniff a Car for Drugs Without a Warrant?
The Supreme Court says a K-9 sniff during a roadside detention is okay—unless it unreasonably prolongs the stop.
Are the rules for car searches different when the search is near a U.S. border?
Special rules for police searches apply near the borders.