If, during a traffic stop, police obtain probable cause of criminal wrongdoing, can an officer conduct a search of the car without a warrant?
Yes. Even if the police have enough time to obtain a warrant, police may still conduct a search of the car if the officer has probable cause of criminal wrongdoing. Unlike a home, cars can easily be moved, and the Supreme Court has reasoned that drivers do not have the same level of privacy in a car as do they in their home. In fact, once an officer has established probable cause to search the car, an officer can also search objects belonging to the passengers. If police discover incriminating evidence, both the passenger and the driver can be arrested.