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A guide to vehicle search laws in the UK

The Fourth Amendment states that a police officer needs probable cause to check a person's vehicle. A judge will not issue a warrant to any officer to conduct car checks unless it can be proved that a crime was committed or a crime is about to occur. There are many ways in which the rules will change and this is sometimes done when an officer has no time to get a warrant and will conduct a search after all. This does not make it illegal. This article provides a guide to vehicle search laws in the UK.

It can happen when you least expect it

You could be driving somewhere on a public road in your new auto when you are involved in a traffic infraction in front of a police officer. When this happens in the presence of a police officer, that officer has the right to pull you over. You will then be asked to provide the officer with a valid driver’s registration and license. If you have any outstanding warrants, the officer will be able to pick this up using your license. The warrants could be anything from unpaid child maintenance or unpaid speeding fines. If any of these are picked up, you can be arrested. An officer can legally search your vehicle without a warrant if he/she believes that criminal evidence can be found inside.
Police officers have the right When the driver of a vehicle or the passenger of the vehicle is arrested, the police officer has the right to search the passenger compartment without a warrant. This is a way of protecting the police officer by ensuring that there are no weapons near the arrested person. The police officer has no right to search the rest of the vehicle such as the trunk and the hood because these areas are outside the arrested person’s reach.

The rules of searching

When an officer searches the compartment of a car for any type of weapons, he/she is only allowed to search places where weapons could be located. For example, a police officer cannot search an ashtray for a gun. However, if there is a marijuana butt sticking out of the ashtray and is in plain sight, the officer can seize it and charge the arrested person with possession. What about impounded vehicles? A police officer has the right to search any part of a vehicle that’s been impounded. They do not require a warrant to do this. If they believe that evidence could be found in the vehicle that could connect to a crime, there is nothing that can stop them.

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