Ask a Cop: Can I refuse a consent to search?

Sgt. Chris Yagelski

Q: I was pulled over by a police officer and asked if I would consent to have my car searched. I did not have anything to hide so I did give him permission, but what does “consent to search” really mean? Could I have just said, “No?”

A: Of course, you can say, “No.” If the police ask your permission to search your home, purse, vehicle or other property, and you freely consent, their warrantless search automatically becomes reasonable and therefore legal. Consequently, whatever an officer finds that is criminal during a consent search can be used against the person.

Q: I was involved in an accident and I had a copy of my insurance with me and gave it to the officer, and the other driver did not. He was not given a ticket or anything for not carrying proof of insurance! Isn’t it a law in Indiana that he must show the officer proof?

A: Indiana law is a little different in the respect that all motorists are required to maintain a minimum amount of insurance coverage on the vehicle that they operate. This required minimum coverage includes $25,000 for bodily injury to or the death of one individual, $50,000 for bodily injury to or the death of two or more individuals in any one accident, and $25,000 for damage to or the destruction of property in one accident. After you are involved in an accident, it is your responsibility to have your insurance carrier file a “Certificate of Compliance” (COC) electronically with the BMV. This COC will indicate that the vehicle you were operating at the time of the accident was insured to the state’s minimum vehicle liability. If this is not completed, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will then suspend your driver’s license.

Q: This might be weird, but my first cousin and I kinda fell in love during a family trip and we have been dating for a while. I am 22 and he is 24, and is actually my father’s brother’s son. I am not jumping the gun, but is it illegal to marry your first cousin in Indiana?

A: The law regarding the marriage between cousins varies from state to state. Some states strictly forbid it, and some states allow marriage and others allow them with exceptions. Indiana law however states: “Two individuals may not marry each other if the individuals are more closely related than second cousins. However, two individuals may marry each other if they are: First cousins and both are at least 65 years of age,” so sorry, you may have to wait for a little while or plan a move.

Q: Does the Michigan City Police have a “Lost and Found?”

A: All found property is taken into evidence. Our department makes every effort to contact the owner if known, and possible. All found property not related to a crime is held for a 30-day period. After this time, the department may dispose of the property if the owner hasn’t been established or is unreachable.

The winner of the $30 gas card sponsored by Ott/Haverstock Funeral Chapel of Michigan City was Arlene Dabkowski from Michigan City. In last column’s riddle of what day would it be 61 days from Monday? It would be a Saturday. Each day of the week is repeated after seven days, so after 63 days it would be Monday and after 61 days, of course, it would be Saturday!

The sponsor for this week’s riddle is our friends at Aperion Care Arbors in Michigan City. This week’s winner receives a $30 gas card!

This one is a little tricky, but fun. One rabbit saw 6 elephants while going toward the river. Each elephant saw 2 monkeys going toward the river. Each monkey has one parrot in their hands. How many animals are going toward the river?

The 9th correct answer by phone or email at exactly 1 p.m. today wins.

To answer a question or ask one, contact Sgt. Chris Yagelski at 873-1461, Ext. #1020, or e-mail

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