Readers who have been pulled over by law enforcement officials while out driving their cars know that a lot can happen when an officer approaches their window. They may be asked to provide proof of their eligibility to drive as well as a valid registration for their vehicle. If they were stopped for violating a New York traffic law such as maintaining the legal speed limit then they may be asked questions regarding their allegedly illegal conduct.
All of the time that a law enforcement official is engaging with a person during a traffic stop, though, they are assessing the situation for further potential threat or illegal actions. For example, if a police officer sees drugs on the passenger seat of a driver’s car during a traffic stop then they may arrest the individual on drug charges since evidence in plain sight of an officer may be used against an individual.
However, if a police officer does not see drugs within a vehicle and has no reasonable suspicion that the driver is either a threat or in possession of illegal materials then they may not have cause to perform a search simply due to an alleged violation of a traffic law. For example, a person who is pulled over for driving nine miles an hour over the speed limit, who is not armed and has no evidence of criminality in the line of sight of the officer and who cooperates with the officer should likely not be searched since there is no reason for the officer to suspect further illegal involvement.
Illegal searches happen all of the time in New York and the evidence collected from them should not be used against the people who were forced to endure unjustified examinations by law enforcement officials. Drug charges based on traffic stop searches should be reviewed by criminal defense attorneys who can help their clients understand their rights and defenses.