Consent to Search
One of the most common questions Tempe criminal defense attorneys get from clients is whether you need to consent to a search after an officer pulls you over for a DUI. The answer is no; however, don’t expect the officer to tell you that. In fact, in most cases, police officers make it seem as though they will search your car either way and by consenting to a search, you are making it easier on yourself. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have more than 20 years of experience defending the rights of our clients who were stopped on suspicion of DUI. We command an impressive knowledge of the Arizona search and seizure laws and are prepared to stand up for your rights at every step of the process.Can an Officer Automatically Search Your Car During a DUI Stop in Arizona?
Absolutely not. Under the Fourth Amendment and decades of case law, the law is very clear that police officers cannot conduct unreasonable searches and seizures. What this means is that an officer must have probable cause to search your car. While probable cause isn’t a term that’s easily defined, essentially, it requires the officer to develop a strong belief, based on the surrounding circumstances, that you committed a crime. Most often, when police officers have probable cause, they will arrest you—that is when you know that you cannot refuse a search.Do You Need to Consent to an Officer’s Request to Search Your Car?
Again, the answer is a hard no. You never need to give an officer consent to search your car—and, barring unusual circumstances, you should never provide consent for an automobile search. There are a few reasons for this. First, if an officer is asking for your consent to search, it almost certainly means that they do not have probable cause, and they know the only way they can legally conduct a search is with your permission.
The second reason not to give consent for an officer to search your car is that challenging the officer’s actions becomes much more difficult if you give consent. This is because, once you allow an officer to search your car, it no longer matters whether the officer had probable cause because they do not need any justification to conduct a search you consent to. In other words, by allowing police to search your car, you are essentially allowing them to bypass the probable cause requirement. And once you give consent, the only way to challenge the officer’s search is to prove that your consent was invalid or that you were coerced into consenting to the search. Both of these are tough to prove.Can Police Officers Lie to Get You to Consent to a Search?
Yes and no. Police officers can mislead you to some extent when trying to get you to consent to a search; however, they cannot lie about having a warrant or other facts of legal significance. For example, an officer is allowed to tell you that if you consent to a search, they will “take it easy on you,” even if they have no intention of doing so. Officers can also lie about other evidence they have; for example, by telling you that another driver called 911 after seeing you display a weapon while driving. The bottom line is that it almost never behooves you to consent to a search because, if officers have probable cause to search, they will arrest you and search your car anyway.Were You Arrested After an Arizona DUI Stop?
If you were recently arrested for DUI or another crime after a Maricopa County DUI stop, the Law Office of James E. Novak can help. Our Tempe DUI defense lawyer has more than two decades of hands-on experience aggressively defending the rights of men and women charged with all types of DUI offenses and other crimes. We are immediately available to meet with you to discuss how we can help you defend your case—and your freedom. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today, call 480-413-1499.