If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI or another traffic offense, law enforcement may want to search your vehicle. With this in mind, the following is what you should know about the stop itself and consenting to a vehicle search. To learn more about your rights when interacting with law enforcement, call and schedule a consultation with a Fairfax DUI attorney today.
Fairfax officers look for numerous things before making a DUI stop. In general, the law of Virginia and such, they don’t actually have to have a suspicion that you’re driving under the influence before you’re pulled over if you have committed another traffic or equipment violation.
Even if they think you might be drunk but they don’t have real proof of that, if they observe you driving around on a busted taillight, they can pull you over and then do an investigation to see whether in fact you are intoxicated or not.
When officers pull someone over specifically for suspicion of DUI it is typically is because they were weaving in and out of their lane, weaving into other traffic, their headlight is not on, on something of that nature that implies something is not right with your driving behavior.
The officer always wants to search the vehicle because it can help provide evidence of intoxication. For example, if there are opened beer cans in your car, it’s more likely that you consumed them beforehand. The officer will also be looking for any drugs that might help explain why you’re behaving in the manner that you are. So, yes, officers always want to search your car on any kind of arrest.
With this in mind, however, you do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle at a traffic stop or at any other time. You are well within your right to refuse and a law enforcement officer can not force you to consent.
At no point do you ever have to consent to police searching you or your vehicle. You always have a right to say no. This does not mean that they ultimately may not be able to search your car on other grounds, such as probable cause if they believe it contains evidence of the crime or an inventory of your car if they’re impounding it, but your right to consent never goes away. It’s always your right. It can’t be taken from you. You always have the right to say, “No, you cannot search my vehicle.”