Can the police search your car without a warrant in Michigan? The Constitution offers residents of the U.S. protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally, this means that the police must provide a warrant before searching your property.
However, these laws do not work the same way when it comes to vehicles. In some cases, police officers do not need a warrant to search your car. You can learn more about the specifics of these regulations with our team at White Law PLLC.
What Are Your Rights in Michigan During a Vehicle Search?
Under the Fourth Amendment, you receive protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. And in general, law enforcement must obtain a warrant before conducting a search. The purpose of this law is to protect a person’s right to privacy.
You can maintain a sense of privacy in your home. But in your car, you are mobile and out on public streets, so your privacy interests are reduced.
While an officer cannot unreasonably search your vehicle, they generally have more leeway when inspecting vehicles and do not always need a warrant. We’ll review times when the police can search your vehicle to help you better understand your rights during a police search.
Under What Circumstances Can a Police Officer Search Your Car in Michigan?
Can the police search your car without a warrant in Michigan? In some cases, yes, they have the right to search your vehicle without getting a warrant first. Police officers have this ability if they have the following:
Probable Cause That You Committed or Will Commit a Crime
An officer can search your vehicle if they have probable cause. That means some fact or evidence has demonstrated that criminal activity has occurred or will likely occur.
If, upon pulling you over for a traffic violation, they see or smell something in the vehicle, such as drugs, they can conduct a search. However, they cannot conduct a search simply because of the traffic violation.
Your Consent to Perform the Search
The officer can also search your vehicle if you give consent for them to do so. They can ask you for permission but cannot use coercion or threats to make you agree.
You can respectfully decline their request, and doing so is not an admission of guilt, nor does it mean the officer can lawfully arrest you. In some cases, you can specify that the police can only search in some locations instead of the entirety of your vehicle.
Plans to Make an Arrest
If the officer has reason to make an arrest, they may be able to search your car if they believe their safety is at risk. However, they do not have the authority to search the entire vehicle; they can look only in areas where you could conceal dangerous items, such as in a glove compartment.
Impounded Your Vehicle
Police can legally search your vehicle if they have detained you and tow your car to an impound lot. They can look in all areas of your vehicle while they have it impounded. They do not need a warrant to search your vehicle in this situation.
For a free legal consultation, call (517) 316-1195
Can Police Search Passengers in a Car in Michigan?
Sometimes, passengers in a vehicle have belongings with them at the time of a police stop. If the driver gives the police permission to search the car, does this mean the police can also search the passenger’s belongings?
As of the People v. Mead case in 2019, police officers in Michigan no longer have the right to search your belongings if they only have the driver’s permission. Police officers must often obtain consent from all passengers before searching an entire vehicle.
However, permissions for a search may change in the future.
Call White Law PLLC for Help if the Police Searched Your Car
Can the police search your car without a warrant in Michigan? In some cases, yes, the police have a right to search your vehicle. However, they may perform illegal searches in some instances.
Any evidence obtained would be inadmissible in court if the police searched your vehicle without probable cause or your consent. A skilled lawyer will thoroughly examine your circumstances and question how the police obtained evidence.
Our lawyers at White Law PLLC, have over 60 years of combined legal experience and know the laws concerning the evidence presented in your case. We will fight hard to protect your rights and ensure you receive a fair trial.
If you have questions about an illegal search of your vehicle, you can call us or fill out our online contact form.