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Can the police search your car if they think you have marijuana?

You may think smoking marijuana is harmless. However, in South Carolina, possession of marijuana is illegal. So regardless of what you think about it, if you get caught in possession of marijuana, you could be in trouble. You could even go to jail.

When can the police pull you over?

The police cannot stop you and search your car just because they feel like it. The Fourth Amendment prevents them from doing this. If you are stopped by the police while driving, they are only allowed to search your car for specific reasons. Remember, possession of marijuana is illegal in South Carolina. So if law enforcement officers have “probable cause” to believe you have marijuana in your car, they are allowed to search your car.

What might count as “probable cause?”

  • They can see a bong or pipe visible on the back seat (in plain sight).
  • They can smell marijuana.
  • They think your eyes are bloodshot or that you sound spaced out.
  • They can see the remains of a joint in your car.

If the police searched your car and found marijuana, you need to determine if they were acting within their authority. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to prove that the police did not have sufficient reason to search your car. They may be able to prove that the police obtained evidence illegally.  If so, it may be possible to get that evidence dismissed, which can make a significant different in the outcome of your case.