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Can The Police Search My Car During a DUI Stop in Florida?

cop on motorcycle approaching driver's side door of a car pulled over

There are a lot of factors that may influence the events of your DUI stop. Things may be done differently depending on why you were pulled over, who the officer is, how you interact with the officer, evidence, and more. Something you may be wondering about is whether or not the police can search your car during a traffic stop if they believe you are under the influence. Let’s go over the rights of the police and the driver during DUI stops.

What The Police Can Do

The police may do several different things during a DUI stop and investigation.

First, they can and will request to see the driver’s license, registration, and possibly insurance. This is to verify the identity of who they pulled over and see that they are driving their own vehicle. Drivers are required to provide this information; drivers do not have the right to refuse this.

Next, the police can ask the driver questions. They may bluntly ask them if they’ve had anything to drink or if they are under the influence of any substances. The police can ask these questions without reading the driver their Miranda rights first. This is because, during a DUI stop, the driver is technically not in police custody and subject to interrogation. Therefore, the Miranda warning does not apply.

The police can ask to search the driver’s vehicle. They do not need to provide a reason for the search, they just need to obtain the driver’s consent.

The police can also request that the driver takes sobriety tests. This could be a roadside breath test or field sobriety tests. This type of evidence is the most common way that the police obtain probable cause to make an arrest.

If the police have collected enough evidence to constitute probable cause for an arrest, they can make an arrest on the spot.

What The Driver Can Do

While the driver cannot refuse to provide the mandatory documentation, they do not have to provide much more beyond that. Drivers can use their right to remain silent and refrain from answering any police questions. For example, if the officer asks the driver if they’ve been drinking, the driver can say they are using their right to remain silent at that time. This is the best thing to do during a DUI stop, as voluntarily giving information could lead to your arrest or conviction.

The driver can refuse a search of their vehicle. Unless there is evidence in plain sight or it is an emergency, Florida police cannot search a driver’s vehicle unless they have a warrant to do so. However, if the driver consents, then the warrantless search is legal.

Drivers can also refuse to take field sobriety tests without penalty. Field sobriety tests are highly controversial and many do not believe they are an accurate measure of sobriety. Always refuse to take field sobriety tests.

Say No To a Search

In short, no, the police usually cannot search your car during a DUI stop unless you give them consent.

The only exceptions to this are:

  • If they can see evidence when standing outside of your vehicle
  • If you consent
  • There is an emergency that gives them no time to obtain a warrant
  • The police are actively making an arrest and need to check the vehicle for their safety

DUI and Drug Charges Defense in Jacksonville

It’s not uncommon for DUI charges and drug charges to stem from the same incident. If you are charged with DUI, drug possession, or trafficking after being stopped and searched, contact First Coast Criminal Defense today. When you are facing multiple charges after a single stop, the case can become complicated. We will look into all details to ensure your rights were not violated and protect you with the strongest defense possible.