A Florida traffic stop may prove stressful and time-consuming, but you may be able to navigate traffic stops better if you have a solid understanding of what rights you have in this scenario. If the law enforcement officer who stops you wants to search your car, it is important that you understand when he or she does and does not have the right to do so.
According to FlexYourRights.org, if you do not want to allow the law enforcement officer who wants to search your car to do so, you maintain the right to say no unless he or she has one of two things: a warrant or probable cause.
When the officer has a warrant or probable cause
Unless you give your consent, a law enforcement officer who stops you has to have either a warrant or probable cause to move forward with a vehicle search. “Probable cause” means he or she needs some type of proof or evidence of unlawful actions or behavior. For example, if you have stolen property visible during the traffic stop, this may give the officer legal grounds for a search.
When the officer lacks a warrant or probable cause
When the officer who stops you lacks permission, a warrant or probable cause, you may exercise your right to refuse his or her search request. If you decide to do so, state as much firmly, but be polite and courteous when doing so. You may then ask the officer who stopped you if you may leave the scene.
Be cognizant of the fact that the law enforcement officer may not tell you that you have the right to refuse the search.