There are several circumstances in which the police have the legal right to search your vehicle. First, if the police have a warrant to search your car, they can search it. In order to get a warrant, they would have to prove to a judge that there may be evidence of a crime inside the vehicle. That can sometimes be difficult to get, so police in many cases try to find another way to search your vehicle.
Police can also search your vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. The police also would have to have a reasonable belief that evidence of the crime would be found in your vehicle. Unfortunately, that gives the police a lot of power to search your vehicle. If the police decide to do a search, there’s not much you can do about it. You will not have the chance to call your attorney and get the search stopped. Instead, if any evidence is found of a crime, you could hope to get it thrown out of court because it was found during an illegal search.
Another time in which police can search your vehicle is as a search incident to an arrest. As a part of an arrest, police can search the area immediately surrounding the person. Therefore, if a person were arrested in or near his or her vehicle, that vehicle could be searched as a search incident to an arrest.
Unfortunately, if your vehicle is ever searched, and police find evidence of a crime, it can make your legal case much more difficult.