What to do When a Police Officer Asks to Search Your Car

Every driver has probably been pulled over at one time or the other

A police officer stands next to a car he pulled over for speeding, reaching for the driver's ID. The focus is on the police car in the foreground with lights on. The policeman is out of focus in the background and unrecognizable.

Even when you have done nothing wrong, you may have to worry about being pulled over. For some it may be alarming, especially if they’ve never experienced it or done anything wrong. Often times, the best response simply requires being polite when you have nothing to hide.

Always remember that you have rights and that the car is your private property. Do not resist physically or fight the officer. When a police officer asks to search your car remain polite, produce your license when asked and obey specific commands.

Ensure you do not out rightly accept or reject a search request. When an officer asks if they can search your car, say “I do not consent to a search of my vehicle” and make sure you pull out your phone to record. Get every details on camera including the officer’s badge number and name.

The officer may insist that you wait for a police dog, let them know that they are only allowed to visually examine the interior and exterior of your car and are within your rights to be searched for 15 to 20 minutes, which is the normal length of a traffic stop.

You should understand that if the police is asking for permission to search your car, then they don’t have credible cause. If they had, they wouldn’t ask for permission, they would already be searching your car. You are within your rights to reject unlawful search.

Remaining polite, and making it clear that you understand your rights will allow the officer to do the right thing. Remember that a search request could escalate quickly and become dangerous even when the officer remains professional, keep your safety in mind always.


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