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Should You Consent to a Vehicle Search if You are Pulled Over?

You are driving down the road when suddenly you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. You are legally required to pull over and provide certain types of information to police officers. However, what happens if they want to search your vehicle? At Ghanayem & Rayasam, our Atlanta criminal defense lawyers routinely represent clients facing serious criminal charges resulting from traffic stops. Find out how to protect your rights and whether you should consent to a search if pulled over.

Protecting Yourself and Your Rights When Pulled Over By Police in Atlanta

There are few things worse than seeing flashing lights in your rearview mirror and knowing what lies ahead. Routine traffic stops gone wrong have made headlines in recent years in Atlanta and in cities across the United States.

Under the Georgia Criminal and Traffic Code, law enforcement officials can pull you over if you have committed a traffic violation or if they suspect you are engaged in criminal activity. To protect yourself during these stops, take the following steps:

  • Remain in your vehicle;
  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times;
  • Provide identification as requested;
  • Assert your right to remain silent instead of making statements that could be used against you;
  • If the police request to search your vehicle, politely yet firmly refuse.

Refusing Police Searches of Your Vehicle During Traffic Stops

While you are required to cooperate with law enforcement during traffic stops, both the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Georgia Constitution set limits on how and when vehicle searches are conducted. You should always refuse a vehicle search, as it could lead police to uncover evidence that could result in your arrest.

However, be aware that even if you refuse, the police may conduct a vehicle search in Atlanta without your consent in the following types of situations:

  • If they have probable cause, meaning a valid reason to suspect you are engaged in criminal activity;
  • If they have a search warrant, which is signed by a judge and grants authority to search your vehicle;
  • If you are placed under arrest, such as for a DUI, your vehicle is likely to be searched as part of standard operating procedures.

If you are stopped and police conduct a search of your vehicle despite your objections, there are additional steps you can take to protect yourself and your rights. Make note of the officer’s name and other details surrounding the incident, scrutinize any search warrants, and inventory any items that were seized.

Contact Our Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers and Request a Consultation Today

You should never consent to a vehicle search during a traffic stop, as it could give police evidence to use against you. If you are charged with any type of crime or feel your rights were violated, reach out to Ghanayem & Rayasam. We provide the trusted, local legal representation you need to protect yourself. Contact our Atlanta criminal lawyers and request a consultation today.