Vehicle searches without a warrant are regulated by section 36 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, which states that a police officer may, without a warrant, stop, search and detain a vehicle, if the officer “suspects on reasonable grounds” that:
A ‘dangerous article’ is defined as:
(a) Any irritant in liquid, powder, gas or chemical form or any dense smoke, or
(b) Any substance capable of causing bodily harm
‘Prohibited drugs’ are those listed in the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, and include cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin.
A ‘public place’ is a place or part of a premises that is open to, or used by the public, whether or not for payment, and whether or not only open only to a limited class of persons, this includes privately owned places that are open to the public.
An officer can also search a vehicle in the absence of a reasonable suspicion if the custodian provides informed consent for the vehicle search to occur.
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