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Can Police Search A Vehicle On The Spot Without A Warrant?


The police can search the vehicle if they have cause to do so, and it could lead to other things if they thought the person was under the influence of drugs, the person had told them something, or if they saw things in the car. The police would usually get to search the person’s car and get away with basically calling it an inventory search, which is where they would look through every corner of the car before it was towed after the person had been arrested.

The reason they give for this is because they would need to inventory everything since someone like the tow company would have to take custody of the car and then the tow truck driver would have to take the car to the impound lot. They would want to inventory everything so that if anything went missing, the person would be able to go after the tow company for it because it was there when they took the car which is usually how the police manage to get away with doing a search of the vehicle.

They would also be allowed to inventory the vehicle for the officer’s safety and for the safety of whoever was going to take possession of the car to make sure there was nothing dangerous in there such as explosives or anything like that. The police would have any number of reasons why they would be able to look through everything.

Can The Police Charge Someone If They Found Something Like An Open Bottle?

The police would be able to charge the person with having an open container, but that would be the least of the person’s worries. An open container is something that could indicate recent drinking, so it may be helpful in a defense if the person was still absorbing alcohol. We could then say the person’s blood alcohol level was still going up at the time so maybe the result they got was overrepresented. If they blew a 0.08 or 0.09, maybe they were not at that level at the time of driving because they had been drinking recently.

This is another reason why people should not tell the police they had been drinking hours ago. They should not tell them anything about it and should say instead that they respectfully refuse to answer any questions. Answering questions would typically result in something more negative for the person’s defense, because most people tend to over represent how long it had been since their last drink and they tend to under represent how much they had actually had to drink. Most people say it had been hours since they had drank and most people say they had less to drink than they really did.

Even if the person did let the officer know about their drinking pattern, it would be better to tell them a time that was closer to the time of driving because we would then have the defense of a rising blood alcohol level. I would still recommend for the person to not go into any of that or give the police any information about that because they would actually not be required to do that.

Will The Police Automatically Impound The Car After A DUI Arrest?

This would depend, but they would usually not do this if the person passed their attitude test. This would also depend on where the person was pulled over. If they were pulled over on the side of the highway, then the police would sometimes drive the car off the road and park it for the person. It would depend on the officer and it would depend on how the person treated the officer.

If the person had given the officer any attitude at all then the person could forget about the officer trying to help them out and they would just have the car towed. The officer may just park the car for the person if they were in more of a hurry and they did not want to wait for a tow truck. It really depends on the situation. Some officers are more likely to have cars towed than others. The person would be looking at an expense of usually between $300 to $600 if their car was towed and impounded.

Can The Police Take The Person’s Physical License After They Have Been Arrested?

Yes. They would basically do something called a “Stop and Snatch.” There would be an administrative per se procedure for that. Anyone who has a driver’s license would have basically agreed to do tests if the police pulled them over and arrested them for a DUI. The person would have to do a chemical test and the results from those tests would lead into two different things if the person was over the limit or if they were going to go after the person. This would usually happen if the person was 0.08 or higher.

One thing that would happen is the person would be charged with a DUI and they would have to fight it in court. The other issue would be with the DMV. The officers would take the person’s license and send it to the DMV. They would give the person a pink sheet of paper, which could sometimes be a white sheet, and it would say on the top that it was an admin per se suspension order. It would give the person all the instructions regarding what was going on with their license, that there would be a separate civil procedure where we would need to be able to fight that.

We would need to show that they basically did not have the elements they needed to take the person’s license away. We would have to request a hearing with the DMV within 10 days, which would be a completely separate deal than what would be going on with court, so the person would actually be fighting two cases. The attorney should be able to show that the police did not have sufficient cause to pull the person over or that the person was not lawfully arrested or that the person was not at or over 0.08 at the time of driving.

These are very tough cases to win, but we do fight hard with those and we win our fair share and save licenses. This is something that an experienced DUI lawyer would try and do for their client. The police would take the person’s license and the new license they would receive would be that paper license. There are a lot of reasons why the person should get an attorney to requesting the hearing within 10 days right away.

Even if the person did not get an attorney right away, they should still contact the DMV and request that administrative hearing themselves, because if they did not, then their license would automatically go into suspension after 30 days which is why this would be a very important deadline to know about.

For more information on Searching a Car without a Warrant, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.

Aaron Bortel

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