When you see red flashing lights in your rearview mirror, you might quickly become fearful about what happens next. You aren’t sure why police are pulling you over and you’re concerned. What if they assume you are driving while high just because you are Black? Will you have to allow police to search your vehicle if they think you are using drugs?
Virginia laws about vehicle searches
In Virginia, police must have a probable cause to search your vehicle. If police pull you over for speeding and then see drug paraphernalia in your vehicle or smell marijuana when you roll down the window, that can be probable cause to search your vehicle.
However, if police don’t find a reason to believe you are breaking the law, they don’t have probable cause for a vehicle search. You can decline if they ask you to search your vehicle. Remember, if police find drugs in your car even if they aren’t yours or you didn’t realize your roommate hid them in your car, you can face drug charges.
Facing drug charges in Virginia
If police do arrest you for driving while high and find drugs in your car, you should not answer any police questioning without an attorney present. You really should avoid saying anything at all, other than you would like to speak to an attorney. You may say something that implicates you in your case and makes defending against your drug charges more difficult.
You will want to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney whether you are facing state or federal drug charges. Drug crimes come with serious penalties and a conviction can impact your life for years.
You don’t want to chance that you won’t be convicted of the drug charges you face. Instead, by taking a proactive approach, you and your attorney can work to reduce the penalties you face and get the best outcome in your case.