If a cop thought I was driving drunk, could he search my car? 10 Answers as of July 11, 2011

I was pulled over on suspicion that I was driving drunk. I had not had anything to drink, I was just a little tired I guess. Anyway, the cop pulled me over, had me get out and do sobriety tests which I passed and breathalyzed me and got 0. Then he searched my car and found a small amount of marijuana. I was not high while I was driving, and I do not see how he had the right to search my car. Was this an illegal search?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
If an officer has probable cause to believe there are drugs in your car, he can search those areas where there is cause they might be hidden. If he can establish that you were likely under the influence of alcohol or a drug this can supply that probable cause. It is up to a judge to decide if he had good cause or not if you challenge the search.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/11/2011
The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann | Christopher J. McCann
Without more information it is difficult to say for certain, but this would generally be an illegal search under that fact pattern.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/9/2010
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
Chances are, based on those circumstances, it was an illegal search. However, it has been my experience that police officers frequently lie in order to justify searching a car. My guess is that, in this situation, the officer states in his police report that there was an odor of marijuana coming from the car. You do have a right to challenge the search by means of a Motion to Suppress.

Our office is very experienced in handling these matters. For more information or to be represented, please call us.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/9/2010
Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
This probably could have been an illegal search.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/8/2010
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Can he? Yes, if he can assert probable cause, which is easy for him to do. He suspected DUI, and when he determined no alcohol, a logical suspicion is drugs.

What can you do? Defend the charges. Go to court, enter a not guilty plea, arrange bail reduction or OR, set up and attend the court hearing[s] and trial date[s]. File evidence suppression or other motions as applicable. Raise all the available defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence and facts are available for legal arguments for motions, plea bargaining, or at trial. Go to trial if it can't be resolved with motions or a plea bargain. There is no magic wand to wave and make it all disappear. If you don't know how to do these things, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a decent plea bargain for you. If serious about doing so, feel free to contact me. Ill be happy to help you use whatever defenses you may have.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/8/2010
    Law Office of Marc K. Herbert
    Law Office of Marc K. Herbert | Marc K. Herbert
    I hate to say it, but it depends.

    The officer can only search your car if you give consent, if he sees evidence in plain view or if he is arresting someone.

    Sometimes, the officer will violate your rights by conducting an illegal search, then justify his actions in his written report. Unless you had a passenger or other witness, it can be difficult to prove an illegal search.

    Any evidence obtained during an illegal search must be suppressed by the Court, so you should hire an attorney to defend you in this case.

    If you would like to discuss this case in greater detail, please call my office.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/6/2010
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Given the facts as you have stated yes there does not appear to be proper grounds to have searched the vehicle. However without reviewing the police report I cannot be certain. If the officer smelled the marijuana in the car or on you it could have been grounds for a search. You should contact an attorney to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/5/2010
    Steven Mandell
    Steven Mandell | Law Offices of Steven Mandell
    It might be an illegal search and seizure, and if it is illegal, it is possible to have the case dismissed. But much more has to be known than you've told us here to really know the chances of winning this case. That is what a criminal lawyer does, and you should probably consult with one of them. Most criminal lawyers give free consultations. If your case is in LA, do not hesitate to call me for a free consult.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/5/2010
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Unless he had probable cause (ie. your car smelled of marijuana), otherwise he cannot search your car, which is not incidental to a DUI arrest. However, if you consented (or didn't say no) to the search, then that is different.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/5/2010
    Law Office of William M. Concidine
    Law Office of William M. Concidine | William Concidine
    Sounds like there may have been an illegal search if you were not under arrest at the time and did not give consent to search if you gave consent, then there may be a problem. You may want to contact an attorney and determine whether to file a motion to suppress the evidence.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/5/2010
Click to View More Answers: