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When do authorities have grounds to search your car?

When a Georgia law enforcement official stops you and asks to look around your car, you may have reasons for not wanting the search to take place. Without your consent, a law enforcement officer has to have one of two things to move forward with a search of your vehicle during a traffic stop.

According to FlexYourRights.org, one way an officer would be able to look around your car without your permission is if he or she has a warrant. Otherwise, the law enforcement officer has to have something that falls under the “probable cause” umbrella if he or she is to move forward with searching your vehicle without your consent.

When an officer has probable cause

Probable cause means the officer who wants to search your car has reasonable grounds to do so. This means he or she must have more than a hunch that wrongdoing took place. Instead, the officer must have some form of evidence or proof indicating as much to have probable cause to conduct a search. If the officer does have probable cause, you must allow the search to take place.

When the officer lacks probable cause

In the absence of probable cause, the law enforcement officer who stops you may try to persuade you to allow the search to take place anyway. He or she may also bank on you not knowing your rights in this regard. However, when the officer does not have a warrant or probable cause, it is within your right to refuse the request to search your vehicle.

If you refuse the officer’s request to look around your car, make sure you are courteous and respectful in doing so.