Wisconsin Vehicle Search by Police

Can the cops search my car?

In Wisconsin, vehicle searches only require probable cause to be conducted. There is no need for a warrant, so long as the police officers can point out specific reasons as to why they think you have committed a crime, are currently committing a crime, or are about to commit a crime.

Now, the police have to have more than just a hunch. They need to point to specific reasons they think you are involved in a crime. These must be things that point to a crime, not just a traffic violation.

Some common observations that help police gain probable cause include:

  • Odor of intoxicants or drugs (by human or dog)
  • Contraband that the officer sees
  • Suspicious movements
  • Admissions of a person in the vehicle

Do the cops need my consent to search my car?

No. They do not need your consent.

To decline, you need to clearly assert your right to refuse a search request. If an officer asks the question “Do you mind if I take a look in your car?”, a good response would be, “I do not consent to a search.”

But just because you do not consent does not mean they cannot search your vehicle and you must comply with the police orders.

Providing your consent would relieve the police from having to prove that they had probable cause to search the vehicle. This is where an experienced criminal defense attorney can prevent evidence found in the vehicle search from being used in court.

If you think you might be the victim of an illegal search hiring an attorney is essential to winning your case. Whether you are facing criminal charges in Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh, or the surrounding areas, the experienced attorneys here at Petit & Dommershausen, S.C. will be sure to diligently investigate all defenses to the criminal charges you are facing.