Nashville, TN asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Traffic Tickets for Tennessee

Q: Can a police officer legally look inside your vehicle if not engaged in an active traffic stop with no probable cause?

The state of TN has adopted a policy of “rolling” enforcement facilities to combat distracted driving. Can they legally look inside your vehicle, even if it is just from the outside, if you have not committed a crime and there is no probable cause to believe you have committed a crime? Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy while you are in your vehicle? Does a personal vehicle act as an extension of your domicile?

2 Lawyer Answers

Mr. Kent Thomas Jones Esq.

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Cleveland, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: They need probable cause to search your vehicle.

1 user found this answer helpful

Anthony M. Avery

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: Everything that is in Plain View going down a road or parked in a parking lot can be legally observed by law enforcement. Inventory incident to Arrest does not need a Warrant first. Searches with Consent do not need a Warrant. Generally law enforcement needs a Search Warrant to examine locked places or to dismantle an automobile. That is they must show Probable Cause that criminal activity is afoot and the requested Search will disclose Evidence of crime.

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