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Can the police search my car without my consent? Image for Creevey Horrell Lawyers Article

Where is the line drawn when it comes to personal property and police searches?

Here is what you need to know about the Police searching your vehicle in Queensland.

Generally, the mass-majority are willing to oblige with the commands of authoritative figures, however, when it comes to Police Officers searching your private property, you may have your reservations.

The Power of Police in Queensland

There are guidelines in place to restrict Police from using their power unlawfully. These limitations are outlined in the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act.

If you find yourself in a position where a Police Officer has asked to search your car, you may wonder – “can the police search my car without my consent?” and “if they don’t have a warrant, what happens next?”.

Here is everything you need to know about Police performing a search in your motor vehicle in Queensland.

The Police Power to Search Your Vehicle in Queensland

Under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act, section 31 outlines the power Police hold to stop and detain a vehicle to conduct a search without a warrant. It states:

(1) A police officer who reasonably suspects any of the prescribed circumstances for searching a vehicle without a warrant exist may, without warrant, do any of the following—

(a) stop a vehicle;

(b) detain a vehicle and the occupants of the vehicle;

(c) search a vehicle and anything in it for anything relevant to the circumstances for which the vehicle and its occupants are detained.

In this case “prescribed circumstances” means that the Police may have suspicions that your vehicle contains:

  • a weapon, knife or explosive;

  • stolen property;

  • dangerous drugs or substances;

  • an item to assist illegal use (i.e., for housebreaking, stealing a vehicle, or administration of dangerous drug).

The above this is not exhaustive. The full explanation of “prescribed circumstances” is contained in section 32 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act.

What If the Police Have a Warrant?

A warrant, is an official document which allows Police to legally:

  • arrest you;

  • search you, your home, or your vehicle; and/or

  • withhold property found in a search.

If the Police have a warrant, they can search your vehicle but only for a reasonable amount of time and only perform the actions listed in the warrant. Police need to provide you with a statement of the powers provided to them within the warrant.

The Bottom Line

Police officers in Queensland must exercise their power in a lawful manner.

If they have asked to search your car and you refuse, they may still hold the power to do so if they have reasonable suspicion.

If you are faced with a criminal offence charge, it is important to obtain professional advice from a criminal lawyer immediately. Your lawyer will act as your legal representative, assisting you in dealing with the police and preparing your case if you need to face the Queensland courts.

Allow Us to Help

Our professional criminal law firm, based in Brisbane, Toowoomba and Roma are experts in supporting you to the best outcome. With over 50 years’ experience in Criminal Law, our Lawyers not only represent individuals but companies and businesses. Creevey Horrell Lawyers regularly appears in Magistrate, District and Supreme Courts around Queensland for pleas of guilty and trials.

No matter the time, the Creevey Horrell Crime and Misconduct team is always available for advice and help with our 24/7 hotline on 1800 2746 3529.


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