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Conway Criminal Law Blog

When can an officer legally search a vehicle for drugs?

If you are stopped by a police officer in South Carolina, your Fourth Amendment rights protect you from an unreasonable search and seizure of your property. To legally search your vehicle, the officer must have one of the following:

Officer may seize items in “plain view”

One allowable warrantless search of a vehicle can be executed when evidence of drug possession/trafficking is within ‘plain view.’ In other words, if an officer stops your vehicle and sees drug paraphernalia in the back seat, they can search your vehicle and seize the evidence, without consent or a warrant.

If police search your vehicle in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights and are not granted a good faith exception by the court, any evidence obtained in the illegal search will be suppressed pursuant to the exclusionary rule.