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Can a police officer search my car?

If you have ever had a law enforcement officer in Illinois ask to search your vehicle, you may have been confused about what your rights were. Any request, whether made casually by an officer asking to "take a quick look in your car" or forcefully with your removal from the vehicle, must be backed by certain guidelines in order to be considered a legal move. Here is everything you need to know about car searches.

First, it is important to understand that you need to stay calm. FlexYourRights.org recommends that drivers immediately pull their car over and turn it off and keep both hands on the wheel. You should also remain polite and silent if you are asked questions that you feel may incriminate you. You also have the right to object to anybody searching your person or your vehicle.

Next, you should understand what can give an officer the right to search your car. If you are arrested at the time, your vehicle can be searched. If the officer does not have a search warrant and you are not under arrest, he or she must have sufficient evidence of possible illegal activity. This could be illegal substances in plain view, open containers of alcohol or the smell of certain drugs. If any of these are noticed, the officer can search your car without your consent or a search warrant.

Being aware of your rights and the guidelines a police officer must follow can indicate proper actions in the event of a vehicle search. This information is meant for your education and should not be taken as legal advice.

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