Warrantless Search of Automobile

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In New Jersey, a warrantless search of your automobile when stopped  by a patrol officer is allowed if the police officer has probable cause to believe you are carrying a controlled dangerous substance or contraband.  State v Witt, 223 N.J. 409 (2015).

However, if your automobile is towed and impounded, a warrant is required to search.

The New Jersey Supreme Court feels there  is a lesser expectation of privacy in an automobile compared to a home.

There is an inherent mobility of a motor vehicle and it would normally take 45 minutes to one hour for a warrant to be obtained via telephone.

Finally, the recognition of the Fourth Amendment is not violated when an intrusion caused by a prompt search based upon probable cause is not necessarily greater than a prolonged detention of the vehicle and its occupants while the police secure a warrant.

What is probable cause? If a police officer, while standing at the driver’s side window  tells you he detects the raw smell of marijuana emanating from your vehicle, does that give him the right to search the trunk?

Contact the Law Office of Oller and Breslin LLC at 973.983.7020, located in Sparta, Sussex County NJ for all your legal representation needs. We serve Sussex, Morris and Warren County New Jersey.