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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    7

    Default Can a Police Officer Open a Car Door Without Consent

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Maryland

    I went to the bar with four of my friends (two are 21, two are 20, I am 21). Three of my friends got in the bar but other other two got shutdown because of their bad fakes. I drink a mixed drink and head to my car because I feel bad. I go in my car with my two friends and play music and wait for my other friends. A cop rolls up behind my car randomly and parks. There was marijuana in the car but it was not visible and had no smell. And there may have been 1-2 empty beer cans but not visible- i think. The cop comes by my window and because my window does not work I opened the door to see if there is any problems. He points the 3 empty beer cans outside of my car and asks if they are my friends or mine. I say "I don't think so," and help him out by throwing the cans in the trash. Next, he uses his flashlight and shines it in my car looking for something illegal. He gets to my passenger side door and randomly opens my car door. I reactively, grabbed his arm and pushed him away from my door (not hard at all) and told him that he can't do that and I did not give him consent. I closed the door and now he is in a bad mood. He asked if I had anything illegal in the car and itd be better to be honest with him because "the dogs" are on their way. I say no there is nothing (I was sketched out because I had weed on me) . He does some test with his pen to see if I was drunk and I pass the test. He is pissed and the only charge he could and did give me was driving with a suspended license (3 days expired, and just turned 21). I just had a couple questions regarding this situation:

    Is he allowed to open my door because he saw beer cans outside of my car?

    If he happened to see two empty beer cans in my car would he be allowed to search my car (I am 21)

    Because he opened my car, could I get out of the ticket - do you know if driving with suspended license is eligible for points??

    Thanks In Advance

    jc13

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,443

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent - Drugs and Alcohol (Maryland)

    How do you know there was no smell?

    It never ceases to amaze me how many smokers (of both legal and illegal substances) mistakenly believe that no one can smell their smoke. Trust me, those of us who do not smoke can smell it easily.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,925

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent - Drugs and Alcohol (Maryland)

    Quote Quoting jcarlson13
    View Post
    I reactively, grabbed his arm and pushed him away from my door (not hard at all) and told him that he can't do that and I did not give him consent. I closed the door and now he is in a bad mood.
    You should thank your lucky starts he wasn't in a worse mood. You put your hands on most officers and you are going to be tasting asphalt, hard.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent - Drugs and Alcohol (Maryland)

    CBG made a good point about the smell . . .

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent, Catching the Occupants With Drugs and Alcohol

    Is he allowed to open my door because he saw beer cans outside of my car?
    Sounds like probable cause to me.
    If he happened to see two empty beer cans in my car would he be allowed to search my car (I am 21)
    Definitely, open container laws.

    Because he opened my car, could I get out of the ticket - do you know if driving with suspended license is eligible for points??
    Nope. You are mixing apples and oranges. Not only points, it will increase your suspension.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent - Drugs and Alcohol (Maryland)

    The marijuana was in a air sealed container and no one in the car smoked the weed before the bar. There was no smell.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,925

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent - Drugs and Alcohol (Maryland)

    So no one had EVER smoked in the car? Ever? Cause the smell stays around a long time.

    As long as the officer can establish a legal reason for making contact with you, the citation for the suspended license will stand. You could hire a lawyer to attack it based on the fact you were not driving when he made contact. That will depend on the specifics of Maryland law, which I do not have.

    You can also file a personnel complaint with the officer's agency about opening your door but it's a pretty minor thing so I wouldn't expect much.

    The number one lesson in this and one you better take to heart is this: NEVER put your hands on a police officer unless you are prepared to be injured, potentially seriously, and subsequently arrested. I applaud you for standing up for your rights but there is a right way and wrong way to do it. You did it the absolutely wrong way and got very lucky.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Tacoma, WA
    Posts
    1,534

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent - Drugs and Alcohol (Maryland)

    OkÖSo, you are:
    1) outside of a bar,
    2) sitting in a car in the bar parking lot,
    3) with two other people (who had just been denied entry to the bar not only because they were underage but had also presented obviously FAKE IDís!!!...Do you think it is within the realm of possibility that the bar owner, who maybe wants to keep his liquor license, called and reported your dumba$$ friends???)
    4) with empty alcoholic beverage containers apparently associated with your vehicle (when, I presume consumption outside the confines of the bar is prohibited).

    People donít generally go to a bar and then just sit in the parking lot. So, considering all of the above, the cop had more than enough reason to check you out.

    As for opening your car door, well, you had already opened the driver door and gotten out. That could well be articulated as implicit consent for him to look a bit closer inside your car than he could just through the windows. But, even without that, you were, again, in a bar parking lot, in a car with three occupants Ė none of which were obviously over the age of 21, and had evidence of having consumed alcohol (the beer cans). I have to assume that at least one of your friends was in the backseat. So, the cop would pretty much have to open the door to get a look at and speak with both of them together. So, yeah, IMO, opening the car door is no violation of your rights.

    But, then, you put your hands on the cop! Like previous posters, I am very surprised that you didnít have a sudden and intimate introduction to the asphalt or at least your car hood. Considering the whole series of bad judgment decisions you made that night (driving to a bar on a suspended license, with weed in the car, with two underage people, with two fake IDís, and assaulting a copÖand thatís just what you have told us about!), IMO you should be thanking your lucky stars that all that happened was a DWLS cite.

    As to your other questionsÖyes, if he had seen the open beer cans in your car, that would very likely be enough reason for him to legally search further.

    And, no, opening your car door is not going to help you get out of the DWLS cite. He didnít discover your driving status by opening the door. So, one has nothing to do with the other.

    Iím not going to do the research on Maryland law for you. But, I suspect that DWLS is a criminal offense and not a driving infraction that will result in mere points on your record.
    Behind the badge is a person. Behind the person is an ego. This is as it should be, person at the center and ego to the back.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent - Drugs and Alcohol (Maryland)

    I was waiting outside of the bar to pick up my friend and drive him home. I understand that fake ids and drinking underage is illegal. The bar that we went to is 60% underage kids to be honest with you. Yes I understand that drinking underage is illegal. But in this situation, all I was wondering about, was the certain facts.

    1) beer cans outside my car ( at a random parking lot, in a popular city, near many bars and restaurants.) 2) Cop opened passenger side door without any consent or seeing anything.


    He opens side for without checking IDS, or testing soberness. I understand that it was very dumb of me even touching the officer, but at the time, I knew that it was wrong of him to open that door- and the guy knew he was in the wrong, because he never tried to open the door again. I am probably just going to accept the DWLS ticket but I was wondering what would have happened if my license was not suspended? Nothing? And to let you know, very many underage people have fake IDS so they aren't "dumbasses" for just trying to have fun when most of their friends are 21-- don't be naive. And there was not weed smoked in that car for awhile. - I don't smoke often and I know for a fact it didn't smell. Thanks for all the responses thus far.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,443

    Default Re: Opening Car Door Without Consent - Drugs and Alcohol (Maryland)

    So if very many underage people jumped off a cliff, would you?

    The thing I find really sad is how many dumbass kids, and that means you and all your friends with fake ID's, think they can't have fun without drinking or smoking weed.

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