This website is for use by legal professionals (lawyers and law practices) only. If the information is used incorrectly, you could risk losing money or your legal rights. If you are a member of the public looking for free advice about your legal problems please visit legalaid.vic.gov.au, or contact our Legal Help advice line on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. 

If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.

Search of a motor vehicle

Information about the police powers to search a motor vehicle.

Any vehicle on a highway may be searched

Any vehicle that is being used on a road or related area may be searched by:

  • a police officer
  • officer who has been authorised by VicRoads.

See s. 13—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

It is also possible that a vehicle could be covertly (secretly) searched where someone is suspected of terrorist activity. A warrant must be issued pursuant to a Supreme Court order before this kind of covert search may be carried out.

See Part 2—Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Search vehicle for drugs

Where police have reasonable grounds to suspect that drugs are in or on a vehicle, they may search, seize and remove that drug of dependence. If substance has been analysed and found to contain a drug of dependence, police must apply to court for order that drug be destroyed or disposed of.

See s. 82—Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Search vehicle for firearms

Police may search person and any vehicle without a warrant or if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that person controls or possesses a controlled, prohibited or dangerous article.

See s. 10—Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines motor vehicle, highway (as road or road related area)
  • s. 13—power to inspect motor vehicles and trailers

See Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Terrorism Community Protection Act 2003 (Vic)

  • Part 2—Covert search warrants:
  • s. 5—may only be issued by supreme court
  • s. 9—what warrant authorises

See Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Drugs, Poisons and Controlled substances Act 1981 (Vic)

  • s. 82 (a)—authorises search without a warrant where police reasonably suspect vehicle contains a drug of dependence
  • s. 83—forfeiture of drug of dependence or substance

See Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic)

  • s. 3—definitions
  • s. 10—search without warrant
  • s. 11—warrant to search

See Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Control of Weapons Regulations 2011 (Vic)

  • Schedule 2—controlled weapons listed
  • Schedule 3—prohibited weapons listed

See Control of Weapons Regulations 2011 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Firearms Act 1996 (Vic)

  • s. 3—definitions
  • s. 149—search of persons or vehicles

See Firearms Act 1996 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Related pages

Updated