Legal

Legal Rights: Driver vs. Passenger in a Traffic Stop

The following is a bonus LEARN Channel tip that can help you avoid search and seizure and cannabis-related arrests.

Know your Fourth Amendment standing. As the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson announced the adoption of the constitutional amendment on 1792, which states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

As a passenger in a vehicle, you do not have a right to suppress evidence based on an illegal search of the car. This means, if you have a bag of cannabis in the car and the police search the car without probable cause, only the driver/owner will be able to suppress that evidence based on an illegal search, and you will be stuck taking the rap. As a passenger, you still have a Fourth Amendment right to your person and personal effects. This means you can still fight the case based on an illegal stop or detention if it lacked reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause depending on the nature of the stop. This also means you can fight searches of personal items in the car. Therefore, if you have contraband in someone else’s car, put it in locked luggage or other device that you own, preferably with a lock on it. This way you will have the ability to fight the case based on an illegal search if they are unable to show probable cause and invoke the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.

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