A vehicle search without a warrant is illegal under Minnesota law unless it falls within certain limited exceptions to the warrant requirement. If a car was uninsured, for example, a vehicle search could be justified under the inventory exception to the search warrant requirement. Under this exception, the police do not need to obtain a warrant prior to searching your car. Since a car cannot be driven in Minnesota without valid insurance, the police are allowed to impound your car and conduct an inventory search of all of its contents, including any items located in the trunk.
A vehicle search by police could also be justified if police can establish probable cause to believe drugs are located inside of your car. Often times police will use a trained narcotics dog to establish probable cause to search your car. But before police can call in a drug dog to sniff around the outside of your car, they will need to establish reasonable suspicion to believe illegal drugs may be located somewhere inside your car. Reasonable suspicion could be established, for example, when police observe paraphernalia in the ash tray or smell an odor of marijuana coming from inside the car. If the police have reasonable suspicion, Minnesota law allows a trained narcotics dog to walk around the outside of your car and sniff for illegal drugs. If the drug dog “hits” on any illegal drugs, the police have established probable cause to search the inside of your car and trunk, including any containers.
If you, or someone you know, has been arrested for possession of controlled subtances found inside of a car, you may have a defense based upon an illegal search and seizure by the police. You will need an experienced Twin Cities criminal defense attorney to defend your freedom. Call defense attorney Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024. Attorney Shane will his use 28 years of criminal defense experience to help your case. Call now.