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Know Your Rights: When Can Police Search a Vehicle in NSW?

Section 36 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act empowers police to search a vehicle if they have a valid search warrant, or without a warrant if they suspect on reasonable grounds that:

1. It contains a prohibited drug or plant, or anything stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained,

2. It is being or may have been used in an offence,

3. It contains anything used or intended for use in an offence,

4. It is in a public place or school and contains a dangerous article that is being, was or may have been used in an offence, or

5. Circumstances exist in or near a public place or school that are likely to give rise to a serious risk to public safety and stopping, searching or detaining the vehicle may lessen that risk.

It is important to know that consenting to a search can render an otherwise unlawful search, lawful.

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