Is it legal for a police officer to search my car and put me in handcuffs without doing sobriety tests first? 8 Answers as of June 01, 2011

Yesterday, I was confronted by a police officer. I was sitting in my car talking with a girl in a parking lot late in the evening. The officer approached the car and took our licenses to run them. He came back, put her in the cruiser, then searched me and put me in handcuffs. He told us that our eyes showed we were under the influence of some drug but stated none. ( i have never taken any drug in my life) He did not have me take a motor skills test of any sort, but told me I was unfit to drive. He then proceeded to search my car for 30 minutes and found nothing as we had done nothing at all. He then said we were free to go but if I tried to drive he would arrest me. I am curious if he was within the law in all of this, and if a report will be on my record stating I was under the influence of narcotics?

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LynchLaw
LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
Quite a story. I do not see the legality of the search. If you were not under arrest, and you did not consent, it sounds like it would be an illegal search. What happened to the girl you were with? If she was arrested then it might be possible to search the vehicle subsequent to her arrest. Outside of that, I think you might have been dealing with a rouge cop.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/1/2011
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Legal? Yes, if he stops for any suspected violation. Youre lucky you werent arrested for DUI.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/31/2011
Law Office of Marc K. Herbert
Law Office of Marc K. Herbert | Marc K. Herbert
A police officer can investigate any situation that he believes to appear suspicious. He is allowed to detain anyone for a "reasonable time" to determine if any crime has been committed, then he has discretion to arrest or release that person. The actions of this officer seem very questionable. If he thought that you were under the influence, he should have performed Field Sobriety Tests to verify that thought. Also, he should not search your car without your consent, unless he could see some illegal object in plain view. Since you were not arrested, there would be no police report about this event. However, you should contact the police department for this officer and provide the name of this officer to his superior officers. His behavior probably constitutes a violation of the civil rights for both you and the girl, but these cases are difficult to prove in federal court. If you have any other questions about this case, please call my office.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/31/2011
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
This sounds illegal. See attorney and file complaint on this officer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/31/2011
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
If he has probable cause to suspect that there are drugs in the car or if there is probable cause to arrest you and it is reasonable to believe that there is related evidence in the car he can search it. This is a determination based on all of the circumstances. For your description the search sounds questionable though the officer might claim that there were other reasons other than your description of the events. If you weren't arrested there likely will be no report prepared.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/31/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    He should not have done that. Send a complaint of Internal Affairs of what ever organization he belongs to: ie. Sheriff; Local cops; CHP, etc. If he didn't do field sobriety tests (and he will lie and said he did) and didn't take you to a hospital for a blood draw to see if you did have narcotics in your system (that one he can't lie about) it will be in some report he filed but if it doesn't go to court it is not on your "record". But make sure you report this. Have the young lady do her own report. The reason I say this is that if you ever get charged again you can file what is called a Pitchess Motion and get all complaints against him. If other people are charged by him they will get your complaints as well as any others that have been made against him. Please do it. Tell Internal Affairs that he lied to you about being under the influence; that he improperly arrested you (putting you in handcuffs is an arrest); and that he threatened to arrest you if you drove. GO DO IT. with enough complaints this officer might just get fired.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/31/2011
    Alanna D. Coopersmith, Attorney at Law
    Alanna D. Coopersmith, Attorney at Law | Alanna D. Coopersmith
    From what you describe here, the officer violated the right of both you and your girlfriend to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. If he did it to you, he probably did it to other people too. I would go to a civil rights lawyer. Let me know if you would like a referral. I doubt that he put anything on your record.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/31/2011
    The English Law Firm
    The English Law Firm | Robert English
    Yes and no. The law provides that an officer can detain you if there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a crime has been committed. He can detain you on a reasonable suspicion. Theoretically, when he cuffed you, you were under arrest and he can then proceed to conduct a search incident to that arrest. However, he determined that since no more serious crime had been committed, he reversed his position and released you. It is a dicey legal question as to whether his observations were actually sufficient, but since there will be no case filed because of it, we will never know. There is no requirement that he give you a field sobriety test or motor skills test. He can make his case fully on his observations of you pupils, actions, speech etc. I am not saying that he would have had a strong case, but probably enough for a reasonable suspicion if he enunciated it well enough.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/31/2011
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