Can The Police Run Legally “Run My Plates” In An Ohio Traffic Stop?
Always remember that you have special constitutional and state rights against illegally searching your car, person, or home in Ohio.
However, the police do have many things they can do to, at times, override these rights, but they are specific and must follow strict procedures. For example, if you’re on a public road and stopped for a traffic infraction, the officer can run a random license plate check on your vehicle. Suppose the police computer’s check shows that you have a warrant, suspended license, or expired license plates. In that case, the police may have “reasonable suspicion” that you may be committing a criminal act or more severe traffic offense.
So, this suspicion arising from the license plate check may allow the police to move forward and search your vehicle. However, it’s vital to know that they can only do this if they have reasonable grounds! These types of searches combat drug offenses, burglary, theft, and even terrorism.
It must be emphasized; however, they are empowered to use these discretionary search powers reasonably, responsibly, and with respect for you and your rights.
Another critical point to remember is that if the officer finds no “searchable” validation but simply asks to search your vehicle: You do not have to agree to the police search your car, no matter how nicely or firmly they ask! There should never be a penalty for saying no, and you cannot be arrested for denying them permission.
Admittedly, many times these searches occur in a “gray” area of the law, and the police do, at times, abuse their discretionary powers. If you suspect this happened, you must consult a professional Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer immediately.
After analyzing all the details involved in your being stopped, and your vehicle searched, if your lawyer proves that your rights were violated, the charges against you are usually always dropped. Immediately receiving the professional legal advice you need is your best defense.
What Does “Probable Cause” Really Mean?
In Ohio, it’s always wise to assume that when the police stop you, they may always try and search your vehicle. They may try to intimidate you if they don’t have any other way of getting this search done. However, any qualified Ohio criminal defense lawyer would instruct you not to comply. No matter what the reason, there is no way that permitting them to search your car is in your best interests.
“Probable cause” for searching your vehicle can always be legally challenging.
For example, though, the officer may ask you a series of questions, such as:
“Do you have any marijuana in the car?” You answer: “Yes, but only a minimal amount for my use.” Unfortunately, you now have given them probable cause to search your vehicle.
Many of the questions they may ask are seemingly simple and (on the surface) non-incriminating, but you have to be extremely careful with what you voluntarily say. Once probable cause is determined, your car can be gone over with a “fine tooth comb,” and anything discovered can be used against you.
You must know that you must be very careful what you bring into or transport in your car. It’s even more important to remember to simply not break the law! Always remember that in any “warrantless” search of your vehicle, it can still be used as evidence and may result in felony charges and severe felony penalties.
If the Police Use a “Drug Sniffing Dog,” Do They Need My Permission?
This may be another contestable area of the Ohio legal system’s stop and search laws.
Generally, bringing out and using a trained “drug-sniffing canine” around your car is not considered a search of your vehicle.
What’s vitally important to remember is that if the detention for your traffic violation is unjustifiably, then the extended time the police wait for or use the dog could be considered an illegal detention. The court then may discard any evidence related to this search.
It may sound contradictory, but even if the police suspect you of having committed a crime, this does not necessarily mean that a search of your car is valid. The reason has to be proven and accurate in the eyes of the court, and searching your vehicle commonly requires solid evidence.
What If the “Evidence” Needed to Search My Car Is in “Plain View?”
Let’s say that the police have stopped you for a legitimate legal reason and discover possible evidence of a crime in plain view. While speaking to you, they see a small bag of marijuana (or another drug) in your car’s cup holder. Here is where “probable cause” can appropriately be used against you.
The police now have visible, immediate, and apparent evidence of a crime.
So, depending on the officers’ discretion and the evidence they see, you may have opened the door to a complete and detailed search of your vehicle.
If this occurs, protect your rights, and consult with a professional, aggressive, and winning Cincinnati criminal defense law team as soon as possible. No matter how harsh the facts against you may seem, they will always fight on your behalf for your constitutional rights.
I Believe My Car Was Search Illegally; How Should I Proceed?
In Cincinnati, Ohio, and all over America, there are clear rules about when police can and cannot search your vehicle. Many vehicle searches may follow these rules, but many times the police do not.
In some cases, vehicle search violations may be accidental, especially if the police follow a “search first and ask questions later” policy.
Always remember that “out on the street,” many “gray” areas arise, and these rules can be very complex.
Also, law enforcement, at times, may be far too eager to uncover evidence, make an arrest, and their case. Consulting with a professional, aggressive, and winning Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer will ensure that your freedom and rights are consistently and powerfully protected.