Your Right Not To Be Searched
Derek Byrd, Byrd Law Firm
As a citizen, you have the right to say no if a law enforcement officer requests to search you, your person, or your car. A common mistake that a lot of people make is believing that once stopped by a law enforcement and the officer asks to search your car, you have some sort of obligation or duty to say yes. In fact, it’s just the opposite. You have a constitutional right not to be searched by law enforcement officers or have your car searched by law enforcement officers.
If you’re stopped for, let’s say, speeding, and an officer comes up to your car and says “Sir or ma’am, would you mind if I search your vehicle?” You have the right to say no and I strongly recommend that you say no.
You should look at the officer as if he’s a stranger. If a complete stranger walked up to you and said, “Hey, would you mind if I kept you on the side of the road and inconvenienced you for the next ten or 15 minutes, and started searching all your personal effects?”
Would you ever, in your right mind, allow that to happen? Of course not. It’s the same circumstance for the law enforcement officer. They have no further rights than any other citizen. If somebody wants to inconvenience you, keep you on the side of the road, have a dog walk around your car, and then start rifling through your effects, they must have a warrant.