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N Cal Attorney
N Cal Attorney, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 8151
Experience:  Since 1983
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What would be probable cause to search vehicle pulled over

Customer Question

What would be probable cause to search vehicle pulled over for not using turn signal in round-a-bout ?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 5 years ago.
Failure to use a turn signal would not supply probably cause to search inside the vehicle.

Whether or not an officer has probably cause depends on the facts known to the officer at the time of the search. Whatever might be found during a search cannot be used to justify the search. A warrantless search is only valid if the facts known prior to the search furnish probable cause.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=or&vol=a98503&invol=1 is a very informative Oregon case on this exact type of situation, when a vehicle code stop escalates into a search. The court stated:

Under Article I, section 9, warrantless searches are per se unreasonable. However, certain exceptions to the warrant requirement exist. The "automobileexception" to the warrant requirement provides that officers may conduct a warrantlesssearch of a vehicle provided "(1) that the automobile is mobile at the time it is stopped bypolice or other governmental authority, and (2) that probable cause exists for the searchof the vehicle." State v. Brown , 301 Or 268, 274, 721 P2d 1357 (1986). The exceptionrecognizes the "exigency" created by the mobility of an automobile and the potentialevidence therein and provides that "[t]he police ticket to admission into a stopped mobilevehicle is probable cause. The test is whether a magistrate could issue a constitutionallysound search warrant based on the probable cause articulated by the officers." Id. at 276.


I don't know the facts of your situation so I don't know if there was probable cause for a search. But failing to signal by itself is not probable cause to search the vehicle.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
It was on Tuesday morning, I had just returned from Bemd, OR where my significant other lives (aprox 130 miles from Eugene). Changed lanes in a round a bour & didn't use my signal & apparently ran over the line where bike lane is. State policeman pulled my 2007 Nissan Titan over. I immediately pulled over. He advised why pulled me over & asked for DL, Registration & Proof of Insurance. I got DL from purse & advised officer reg/poi in back on passengers side. I got out of the truck, (first response). I was confused where had put folder with these things in it. Officer asked me if this was it. It was in folder with manual, etc. which was in passenger side door in back. He advised me to get back into the truck which I did. He returned & asked if could search vehicle. I told him twice I'd prefer if he didn't. My golf clubs, luggage, & various items were in my truck & it was a mess. He pretty much insisted & when I asked the reason he said it was standard procedure. He in turn found my golfing pals pipe(she has a medical marijuana card) & advised officer I was going to return to her next day (Wed) which day we always play golf until the weather no longer permits. He didn't give me a ticket for not signaling, but instead issued a violation for possession of under one ounce of marijuana. Can I have my girlfriend write a statement advising it was her pipe ?
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 5 years ago.
Yes having her claim ownership of the pipe will help, but please do not contact the police directly unloess you have an attorney present. The cop lied to you, it is not standard procedure to search a vehicle after a traffic infraction.

http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4559 has the penalties for marijuana in Oregon, the most you face is a fine.

You may be able to get a doctors note to allow you to legally possess small amounts of marijuana, see http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4559&wtm_view=medical

You can get a free consultation with a local criminal defense attorney through http://lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/lawyer_dir/search/jsp/stdSearch_process.jsp?stype=BY_ADDR_OR_ZIP&keyword=Criminal+Defense&location=Eugene%2C+OR&language=Select+a+language#stq%3D0%26CITY%3D%26CONSULTATION%3Dtrue%26SPONSORED%3Dtrue

I would call a local attorney and ask about suppressing the results of what sounds like an illegal search, and asking about making a plea bargain if doing a motion to suppress is not granted. Although getting your own doctors nore might give you a complete defense without having to make a motion to suppress.

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