Can the Police Make an Arrest for a Traffic Offense and Then Search Your Car?

Law enforcement officers often find incriminating evidence in individuals vehicles that have been pulled over and arrested for minor traffic violations. One Texas law enforcement officers favourite techniques for this type of arrest is driving without a front license plate. That traffic violation is a class c misdemeanour which only carries a fine as punishment. After an officer arrest the citizen for the traffic violation then an inventory search is conducted of the vehicle and any incriminating evidence found during the inventory search is seized and the citizen is arrested.

Can the police do this intentionally arrest some one for a traffic offense with the anticipation that they are going to find contraband for a higher criminal offense? The answer is yes. The Texas appellate courts have ruled that this procedure is allowed as long as the contraband is discovered during a proper inventory search. Narcotic detectives often work closely with patrol officers and have them follow a suspect and wait for them to commit a traffic violation that they can be arrested for. Then they hope to discover illegal drugs during the inventory search.

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