According to a recent FBI report, over 545,000 people were arrested for a cannabis-related offense in 2019. In quite a few cases, law enforcement has found marijuana in an individual’s car.
If this situation happens to you, there are multiple possibilities. You could get lucky and walk away without a charge or spend a night in a police cell before facing criminal charges. We’re certainly not experts on what to do in this situation, but we have taken advice from people who are in this article.
Please note, at no point will we recommend that you break the law. Also, we take no responsibility for whatever happens if you use one of these tips given to us by legal experts. Good luck!
What Happens if You Get Caught with Weed in Your Car?
Even in states where the substance is legal, you could get into trouble for having weed in your car. It is a mistake to assume that it is okay to treat cannabis like tobacco in a state like Washington.
If you’ve been on the road long enough, you’ve probably been pulled over by a police officer at some point. Once your car is safely parked, the police officer can ask you to step out. You are legally obliged to obey. The officer can’t legally search your vehicle without a search warrant. Instead, they require your consent to search the car.
However, the officer CAN search your vehicle without your permission or a warrant if they have probable cause. Examples include if they:
- Get a strong smell of marijuana or another illegal narcotic coming from you or the vehicle.
- Can see something that justifies a search. For instance, if you have a joint in open sight.
- Have a drug-sniffing dog that alerts the officer to the presence of illegal drugs.
A Police Officer Found Cannabis in My Car! What Next?
Once a law enforcement official finds marijuana in your vehicle, it is relatively rare for you to drive away. For one thing, the officer doesn’t know whether you have used any of it. They are very unlikely to let you go in case you’re intoxicated and a danger to other drivers. The likely outcome is that you are brought to a police station where you spend a night in a cell. Make sure you get in touch with an attorney that specializes in marijuana possession cases.
The potential punishment also varies according to where you’re caught. For instance, the penalties for carrying weed in your car in Florida are likely more severe than in California. That’s because cannabis is illegal for recreational use in Florida, but not in California.
In the Golden State, this violation is considered an infraction as long as it is below the legal possession limit. You will be fined $100 unless you’re also high, in which case you’ll face a DUI charge! There are also related offenses, such as driving with an open container.
In Florida, you face a misdemeanor charge if you have less than 20 grams of cannabis. This could lead to jail time.
Could I Lose My Driving License?
Yes! Depending on the state, if you’re convicted of any marijuana charge, your driving privileges are suspended. In Florida, for example, you could have your license suspended for up to two years.
It could get even worse! Apart from the threat of jail time or a heavy fine, you could lose your vehicle! In certain states, there are civil asset forfeiture laws that allow police to seize your vehicle permanently. It doesn’t even need to be a large amount. Some motorists have lost their car due to a few grams of cannabis.
In Illinois, police use civil asset forfeiture to collect cars that they sell at police auctions. This is even though the state recently permitted recreational cannabis.
Please note that you can even get arrested for having weed in your car if it isn’t yours. Let’s say you’re driving with a friend and are pulled over. You have nothing to hide, so you allow the police officer to search the car. However, your friend failed to inform you that they placed cannabis in your glove compartment. As you’re driving, you’re the person that the law enforcement official handcuffs and brings to jail.
What to Do If Caught with Weed by Police?
Once the police officer finds the marijuana, there is no escape. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a dire situation. Here are seven tips we’ve received from legal experts.
Tidbit of Advice” #1: Be Nice … And Try to BE YOURSELF When Talking to the Officer!
This is usually much easier said than done, but rule #1 is to be respectful to the officer who has pulled you over. Even if they act aggressively, it does you no good to return the favor. Do what you can to be respectful; use “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” as needed and without doing it in a sarcastic tone. Also, abide by their instructions quickly and happily.
Moreover, make a conscious effort to be yourself. Most police officers have plenty of experience and are well-versed in personality reading. They can tell from a mile away if you’re yourself or if you’re acting strangely because you’ve got something to hide.
“Tidbit of Advice” #2: Know Your Rights (And Don’t Be Afraid to State Them!)
This bit of advice essentially comes down to understanding the Fourth Amendment. Make sure you let the officer know you’re familiar with it.
The Fourth Amendment is the constitutional right that protects you from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This is the amendment that people are talking about when they discuss “probable cause.”
If the officer asks if they can search you or the car, and you feel they do not have probable cause to do so, feel free to say no. However, do it respectfully.
“Tidbit of Advice” #3: ALWAYS Have Some Good Eye Drops Handy
This is a simple trick that could pay massive dividends if you’re ever pulled over with weed in the car!
Remember, probable cause is one of few things that gives a police officer the right to search you for marijuana or any other illegal substance. So, if you’ve got ridiculously bloodshot eyes like Snoop Dogg at the High Times Cannabis Cup, you’ll probably get searched!
However, clearing up red eyes is often as simple as administering a few quality eye drops. Make sure you spend the few extra bucks and get a high-quality brand rather than the cheap generic stuff.
“Tidbit of Advice” #4: Go Easy on the “Cover Up” Smells
A pungent Febreze or air freshener smell coming from your driver’s window is as much a sign of cannabis use as the smell of the drug. A single puff of Febreze might do okay in covering up a general cannabis aroma. However, going crazy with the stuff will do you no good at all. It’ll just increase the suspicion that you’re hiding something.
If ever in doubt, remember the following hilarious “Most Interesting Man in the World” meme:
“I don’t always smell like Febreze, but when I do, it’s because my weed is too dank…”
“Tidbit of Advice” #5: Swallowing Your Stash MIGHT be a Last-Ditch Option… But It’s Certainly Not Advised
Swallowing the cannabis is a terrible idea, even if you feel as if there is no other option.
However, ingesting raw marijuana in small enough amounts (i.e., a gram or so) shouldn’t cause devastating effects. THC and other cannabinoids need to be heated (decarboxylated) before they can have any effect on your brain. Therefore, you probably won’t get high if you eat a small bag of raw marijuana.
Even so, this is an absolute last-ditch effort and is not advisable for larger quantities of weed.
“Tidbit of Advice” #6: Know the Laws in the State That You’re In
This one is a bit tricky as marijuana laws differ wildly from state to state. However, you must learn all about the marijuana laws in the state where you’re driving.
For instance, it is legal in Colorado to possess and smoke cannabis recreationally. However, it is 100% illegal in the neighboring state of Kansas. In certain states, the possession of a few grams of marijuana could result in a prison sentence.[Check out this excellent state-by-state guide on marijuana and CBD legality if you’re unsure of the laws where you live].
“Tidbit of Advice” #7: You Can Always Try and Pull a “Chip”
If you’ve exhausted all of your other options, you can always “pull a Chip.” This involves innocently proclaiming to the trooper, “I’m sorry, officer — I didn’t know I couldn’t do that.”
This is a classic line from one of Dave Chappelle’s best stand-up routines. In it, he describes what his best friend “Chip” used to do to get out of being arrested when he got pulled over while under the influence. While it may not get you off the hook, it just might put a smile on the cop’s face. Of course, it could backfire spectacularly and make the officer even angrier!
How to Hide Weed in Your Car
It is relatively easy to avoid being caught with cannabis in your vehicle; don’t carry any! Failing that, you need to drive carefully and not commit any traffic offenses. Don’t give the police the opportunity to pull you over.
However, once you’re pulled over, you should NOT consent to a search if the police officer doesn’t have a warrant. Never use cannabis in the car, as the smell will give the officer probable cause to search your vehicle. You also need to hide the weed in a car to ensure it isn’t in plain sight. This is the case even if you have a small amount.
First and foremost, make sure the marijuana is stored in an airtight container. Don’t open it anywhere near the vehicle. Also, ensure the container is opaque instead of transparent. At this point, storing it anywhere out of view is okay. This can include in a closed bag or glove compartment. Unfortunately, if the officer claims probable cause and searches the car, they will quickly find your drugs.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the police officer won’t find it. Some of them are vastly experienced and will know all the tricks.
Final Thoughts on What to Do If You Get Pulled Over with Weed in the Car
The above advice might help you if the police pull you over. However, please remember that driving with cannabis in your vehicle is illegal. If caught, you could be arrested and potentially face jail time, depending on the state. You may also lose your license and could even have your vehicle permanently seized.
We don’t recommend driving with cannabis in your car and take no responsibility if you’re arrested after trying one of the tidbits above. Whenever possible, keep marijuana out of your car, and NEVER use it in your vehicle.
How to Get the Weed Smell Out of Your Car?
The smell of cannabis in your car is a giveaway and provides the police officer with probable cause. There are several ways to eliminate the cannabis odor if you use the drug in your car. Air fresheners are the obvious option, but you could also eat aromatic foods such as Indian food in your car.
There are also odor absorbers such as activated charcoal and baking soda. One homemade mix of interest is a combination of white vinegar and vodka. Mix a cup of each with a cup of water to create a spray and start spraying porous surfaces in your car.
Can You Get Arrested for Having Weed in Your Car?
Yes! Even in states where recreational cannabis is legal, you could face a criminal charge. Admittedly, some states are less strict than others and only give you a civil infraction. However, in states where recreational cannabis isn’t legal, you could get arrested and brought to a police cell. Depending on the state and the amount of marijuana, you might face jail time.
What Happens if You Get Caught with Edibles?
It is more complicated when you have marijuana edibles in your car. You are more likely to get away with cannabis edibles than flower because most police officers aren’t trained to distinguish the two. Unless the label clearly outlines that they are cannabis edibles with THC, you may not get arrested.
However, if you are caught with marijuana edibles, you are treated the same way as if you had cannabis flower. Things get even more problematic in Texas, where they consider the weight of the edible and NOT the THC content. Therefore, you could go to jail for 20 years because you have a bag of THC cookies!
Can the Police Search Your Trunk?
According to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, citizens are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the police can still search your trunk if they have probable cause. For instance, if there is a smell of weed coming from your car, the law enforcement official is entitled to search your vehicle, including the trunk.
How to Transport Weed Safely
First of all, please remember that transporting cannabis across state lines is federally illegal. It doesn’t matter if you travel from one recreational state to another. If you have marijuana in your car, make sure it is out of plain sight. Store it in a dark sealed container out of public view. Apart from the glove compartment, the trunk, or under the seats, there are several ‘secret’ places to store it. Examine your vehicle to see if you can find any.