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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 110466
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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I was pulled over in SC because my back seat passengers were

Customer Question

i was pulled over in SC because my back seat passengers were not wearing their seatbelts. The officer said he "smelled" alcohol in the car, but was not true, as no one was drinking. He said the "smell" gave him "probable cause to search my car.
When he asked me for my ID, he saw another driver's license in my purse. It was my friend's, who asked me to hold it for her the night before when we went out and she didn't have her purse with her. She is only 19, so there is absolutely no reason for me to have that for getting into a bar or getting alcohol. However, he confiscated her ID and gave me a $237 ticket for possession of another's ID. Why?
He then thoroughly searched my car -- even my the container of lysol wipes in my car -- although i repeatedly told him I didn't have anything illegal in my car.
I thought he was not allowed to search my trunk unless it was reachable from the passenger compartment. Why did he go through all of my stuff. I was completely respectful and not one bit intoxicated or belligerent. And yes, my friends each got a $25 ticket for not wearing their seatbelts.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
If your friend goes to court with you about the license issue, that citation will be dismissed by the prosecutor in most all cases. If not, with your friend's testimony in trial you should be found not guilty, since there is no proof you used a fake ID.
As far as the search, he had the right to search the passenger compartment based on his alleged smelling of alcohol, but you are correct in that going into the trunk is beyond the search and seizure parameters without more probable cause.
The stop sounds like more of a harassment stop than anything and he issued citations to force you to be inconvenienced by going to court with a local attorney to plead not guilty and get the charges dismissed, with the exception of course of the seat belt violations if they were not wearing seat belts.