When is a search of a vehicle legal?

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When is a search of a vehicle legal?

We were stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and my friend and I, ho are underage, were cleared by the officers to continue driving (without having to exit the vehicle). When we started to drive away the officer noticed 2 construction signs in the rear seat of the vehicle. He told us to stop and asked what they were. we replied they were our Halloween costumes (it was Halloween weekend) and that our buddy gave them to us because he had them. They instructed to to pull over to the side of the road and proceeded to ask us questions about what was in the vehicle. we replied that we had some beer in the rear seat in a backpack. We are both 19 so he asked us to step out of the car and search the entire vehicle. Was this a legal search?

Asked on October 30, 2012 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

Arkady Bukh / Bukh Law Firm, P.C.

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you are being charged with anything, it is always wise to consult a criminal defense lawyer right away.  From your facts, it sounds like he had probable cause in that it is illegal to take highway signs and they were clearly visible.  Then you TOLD him about the beer in the car and you are underage so it sounds like a sound search.  Once again, I reiterate if you were charged you need to contact a lawyer right away. 


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