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Smell of marijuana: Is it probable cause?

Texas has extremely limited marijuana stores. Although the first marijuana dispensary opened near Austin in early February, only people who suffer from intractable epilepsy can buy anything. 

With marijuana laws beginning to become more lenient, many people wonder what the police can and cannot do. Bear in mind, the police can still arrest you if you drive under the influence of marijuana. You need to remain cognizant of even having marijuana on your person because an officer has the right to search your vehicle if he or she smells marijuana on the premises. 

What about a warrant?

Ordinarily, a police officer will need to obtain a warrant to search a person's private property, which includes a house or car. However, if the officer has probable cause to believe a crime is active, then the officer can circumvent needing a warrant. Smelling marijuana on your person gives officers enough reason to search your car. 

Can an officer search your person?

In addition to searching the vehicle for the presence of marijuana, officers may ask a person to step outside for a body search. You can claim that you do not consent to a search, but if an officer has the time, then he or she may detain you until there is a warrant. 

What are other ways officers may try to search a vehicle?

There are various techniques some police officers utilize to search a person's car. For instance, an officer may simply mention marijuana and then assess the driver's reaction. If that mention makes the driver nervous, then the officer could use that reaction as probable cause to search the vehicle.

In the event the police stop you, there are certain items you should take account of. Take note of the reason the officer gave you for pulling you over in the first place. Additionally, you should note the time of day and location you stopped. 

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