Many people feel uneasy when interacting with Texas law enforcement, and this is especially true during traffic stops. Even if you do not believe you did anything wrong, having those blue lights appear in your rear-view mirror may cause you anxiety. Yet, keeping your cool and knowing your rights in this situation may help you avoid unnecessary trouble with the law.
According to FlexYourRights.org, law enforcement officials, in most instances, need to have warrants before they may perform a search of your home if you do not want the search to take place. Yet, the threshold is lower when a law enforcement officer wants to look around your car without your permission. In this scenario, all the officer needs to do so is “probable cause.”
When an officer has grounds to conduct a vehicle search
An officer needs to have some type of evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity to have probable cause for a vehicle search. If, during the traffic stop, someone in the car admits to committing a criminal act, this may give the law enforcement officer grounds to move forward with a search. Smelling marijuana may also give law enforcement probable cause for a search, among other possible examples.
When an officer lacks grounds to conduct a vehicle search
If a law enforcement officer has no probable cause, he or she may use tricky language to try to get you to agree to the search request, anyway. However, when the officer lacks a warrant or probable cause, you may refuse his or her search request.
It typically pays to remain courteous and calm during your traffic stop even if you decide to refuse the officer’s search request.