What Is The Vehicle Search Exception?

Once an individual motorist has been pulled over and the police officer has probable cause to perform a vehicle search a warrant will not be necessary in order to actually vehicle search. This is known as the Motor Vehicle Search Exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of first obtaining a search warrant. The reasoning for such a rule is because of the easy ability for a vehicle to be readily mobile.

The rule generally states that an officer is allowed to perform a vehicle search of all compartments and areas of a vehicle, without the need for a warrant, if there is probable cause to believe that the particular area to be searched contains contraband. This can occur if the contraband is viewed in plain sight, meaning as the officer is near the vehicle and sees the contraband then he or she will have probable cause to search the vehicle. Moreover, this rule does not stop a police officer from performing a vehicle search of the passengers of the vehicle when the individual to be searched has the ability to conceal or hold the suspected contraband.

Michigan law explains that a police officer will have probable cause to perform vehicle search if he or she smells marijuana coming from the vehicle. However, it can and should be argued that if a police searches the passenger compartment of a vehicle, because he or she smelled burnt marijuana, yet did not discover any contraband during the search then he or she may be precluded from searching the trunk compartment of the vehicle. Michigan courts have yet to answer this specific question; on the other hand, the United States Supreme court does have precedent indicating that an officer may not continue the vehicle search when he or she has come up empty handed.

PLEASE DO NOT RELY upon any of the information contained in this article when trying or attempting to represent yourself in court. You should always consult with an attorney before relying upon any written advice, article, blog etc.

Josh Jones is here for all your criminal matters (whether felonies or misdemeanors) and all your marijuana matters (both medical and non-medical). Call Josh Jones today when you are involved with a vehicle search here in the State of Michigan.

About Josh Jones

Josh Jones is an experienced and professional Michigan Criminal Defense attorney presenting Metro Detroit, Genesee County, Livingston County, Lapeer County, and others throughout the State of Michigan. He is available 7-days a week and handles all felonies, misdemeanors, probation violations, traffic tickets, and drivers license restoration. Josh is only a phone call away and is here to help when you are involved with the criminal justice system.