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Can police search your car if they suspect you of DUI?

In Tennessee, law enforcement pulls many people for DUI. Police officers do not always act responsibly during these stops. For instance, they may demand to search your car or even skip asking for permission.

The reality is that, in most cases, police do need to ask for your permission even if you are quite obviously drunk. It is in your best interest to not give that permission.

Make police get a search warrant

Police officers can search your car legally without your permission, but they need a search warrant to do so. It is well within your rights to say something such as, "I decline permission for you to search my car," and force them to go through the motions of getting a warrant. Many times, they will not bother because they know the judge probably would not have granted the request. After all, searches of your car during a DUI stop are unnecessarily invasive except in a few circumstances.

One tactic that some officers use is to limit their searches. For example, they might ask to search your glove compartment. You think if you say yes, that will be the end of it. Except after they search there, they want to see your trunk and then the rest of the car. On it goes.

Remain calm

It could be that police officers claim to see something in plain sight that concerns them and gives them a reason to search your car. For instance, maybe they think they see a baggie of drugs in plain sight in your back seat. In such cases, they do have the authority to search. It is important that you remain calm even if you do not think anything was in plain sight or you have never had a baggie of drugs. Acting aggressively gives police another excuse to rack up the charges against you.

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Hindman & Lanzon
550 West Main Street
Suite 550
Knoxville, TN 37902

Toll Free: 866-383-1545
Phone: 865-223-6450
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