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Consent to Searches Or Sobriety Tests During Ocean City DUI Stops

The following is information on your rights when stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence. Click this link to read about DUI traffic stops in more detail.

Do You Have to Consent to a Search of Your Vehicle?

No. You don’t have to consent to a search of your vehicle. You have the right to refuse to have your vehicle searched. However, that doesn’t necessarily stop a police officer from searching because if a police officer is able to articulate a basis to have to search the vehicle, then the officer may still end up searching your car.

For example, if a police officer were to testify that they stopped the vehicle and they smelled the odor of burning marijuana emanating from the car, the driver could refuse to consent to the search but the officer is probably still going to do it because they can articulate in court you know, “Well, I smelled burning marijuana and under the law, that would be, an exigent circumstance for me to immediately search the car.”

However, the officer’s decision to search a car can be challenged later in court, and a judge may decide to suppress the evidence seized from the car if the search was not justifiable.  That is a very different position to be in as opposed to an officer testifying that the driver gave him consent to search.  It would be very unusual for a judge to rule a search was not justified when the judge hears that the driver consented.

What If The Person Has Been Arrested For a DUI?

Yes, the person can still refuse to consent. The mere fact that the driver has been arrested does not mean that an officer has an automatic right to search the driver’s car.

The officer would have to articulate why he felt there was some justifiable reason to search the vehicle. Just because you’re stopped and arrested for a DUI, it doesn’t mean that the officer has your permission to search your car.

What Are Some Common Mistakes You See People Make in DUI Cases?

One of the biggest mistakes is not consulting with an attorney before they decide whether or not to take the breath test. I think that people don’t understand that they have the right to refuse to take tests or that they have the right to refuse the PBT, they have the right to refuse the breathalyzer.

I think it needs to be an informed decision. And I think they need to be speaking with an attorney about that. But I think that the biggest mistake is people just sort of conceding to doing something without understanding what their options are.