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Can a passenger receive a drug charge during a traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2023 | Criminal Law |

Police officers have the right to conduct a traffic stop whenever there is reasonable cause to suspect illegal behavior. Even so, you might feel that you have nothing to worry about as a passenger even if the driver is in possession of drugs at the time.

The fact is, however, that being a passenger in a vehicle containing controlled substances could result in a drug possession charge against you. By understanding the laws around drug possession, you can protect yourself against such charges and properly exercise your legal options.

What does Georgia law say about drug possession?

Georgia statutes on controlled substances state that it is unlawful for a person to possess controlled substances or to have those substances under their control. When an officer finds drugs in a communal area of a vehicle, such as in the trunk, glove box or in the seat, it is not immediately apparent which occupant owns or controls that substance. In such a situation, the driver as well as all passengers can receive a drug possession charge under the assumption that they are all capable of controlling the discovered substance.

What can a vehicle passenger do about a drug charge?

Building a strong criminal defense case can help ensure that you do not suffer the consequences of someone else’s actions. If you receive a drug charge as a result of a wrongful vehicle search, you can present evidence that proves as much. You might also pursue the claim that the drugs in question could not possibly belong to you.

While options exist to defend yourself against wrongful charges, it is important to know that law enforcement can accuse you of drug possession even if you are a mere passenger in a vehicle containing controlled substances.