You get pulled over driving through Alabama. The police talk to you for a few minutes. One officer stands by your window while the other walks around behind the car.
You think they may be about to leave, but then one of the officers asks if they can just take a look inside your car. They’re not even all that aggressive about it, but you’re not sure what to do. Can you say no? Do you have to say yes? What rights do you have when dealing with people in a position of authority?
This situation can be intimidating, which leads to a lot of people thinking that they have to say yes, but the reality is that you don’t. You can absolutely tell the officer no, that they cannot look in your car. Some have even said that it’s best to say no regardless of what you have in the vehicle.
The thing is, if the officers have a warrant to search your car, they do not need your consent anyway. They don’t have to ask. If they have probable cause for a warrantless search, they also don’t need your consent.
Basically, the only reason they ask for permission is because they do not have a warrant, they do not have probable cause, and they just hope you say yes anyway. If you do, they can conduct a legal search of the car without any real reason to do so.
Standing up for your rights is important, as is looking into your rights if you do end up getting arrested and/or assets get seized.