Can the cops search your car after a DUI arrest?

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2018 | criminal defense |

Drunk driving is far too common in South Dakota. One recent example took place in Butte County, where the police also arrested the individual for committing a felony with a firearm and possession of a controlled substance. 

In some cases, a person arrested for DUI will have evidence of another crime inside the vehicle. There are several different circumstances when the police can legally search your vehicle, so you need to be cautious. 

You grant permission

During the traffic stop, it is likely the cops will ask to search through your vehicle. If you say, “Yes,” then the cops can search your car, and anything they find can serve as evidence against you in court. Many people see no problem in granting permission because they do not think there is anything to find, and they want to cooperate to make a good impression. However, it is possible you had a friend leave an illegal substance in the back seat that you are unaware of. You do not have to give permission, and you are well within your rights to say, “No.” 

The cops conduct an inventory search

After the police arrest a person on suspicion of drunk driving, the vehicle will go to an impound lot. Once it is there, the police can conduct an “inventory search.” The cops do not need permission to look through the car at this point, and they can search every area, looking through the glove box as well as the trunk. 

The cops need to follow strict protocol for an inventory search to be legal. The primary purpose of this search is to see what items are present for administrative purposes. It is mostly to complete paperwork. The cops should not inherently look for anything illegal, such as a bag of an illegal substance. However, if it is in plain sight, then it could work against you in court.