Experienced Nashville Defense Firm

Can My Car Be Searched If It Smells like Weed?

Want to avoid a drug charge? Driving around the State of Tennessee with your car smelling of weed is an open invitation of having your car searched. The U.S.Supreme Court has held there is an automobile exception to the requirement to have a search warrant. Here is the bright line rule, if police have probable cause to search a vehicle or a container within the vehicle, a warrantless search may be made of the vehicle and containers contained therein likely to conceal the object of the search.

First, the police must have probable cause to justify the warrantless search. what is probable cause? Probable cause has been described as "practical, common sense decision that there is a fair probability that evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.'  The smell of burnt weed or marijuana is a pretty good indicator that there may be some marijuana in the car. It is just common sense. Smell coffee. There might be some coffee brewing nearby. In fact, several federal courts have justified a search of a car or truck on the smell of burnt marijuana.

Here is a checklist of facts to consider in defending a marijuana charge.

  • Did probable cause exist to search either the car or the container?
  • Was a vehicle as defined by the automobile exception searched?
  • Was the scope of the search limited to places where the object of the search could be found?

The bottom line is to smoke marijuana in your car at your own risk. Don't forget that you could also be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana.