How a Hanging Air Freshener Can Result in a High-Stakes Traffic Stop

Air fresheners be interpreted as an attempt to disguise a smell that is actually illegal.             

If you are stopped with an air freshener in your car and the police officer smells a strong odor of marijuana, it may appear that you are attempting to disguise the smell. While the air freshener may have been intended to make the inside of the car smell better, it could be interpreted by the officer as an attempt to hide the smell of illegal drugs.

Can result in a search of your vehicle which can lead to discovery of other illegal items.

If police officers are suspicious that you are in possession of drugs, they may want to search your car. If they find an air freshener that smells like pot, they may be inclined to search your car to find the source of the odor. If they find other illegal items in your car, you could be charged with both possession and intent to distribute.

May cause unwarranted suspicion on the part of Police during the stop.

An air freshener scented with vanilla, lemon, or cedar is generally a sign of a well-kept car. However, it may also cause the police officer to become suspicious. The officer may believe that you are trying to hide the odor of drugs, or that you are attempting to mask the smell of alcohol.

Can lead to a Breathalyzer test, which may lead to discovery of alcohol or drugs.

If an officer suspects that you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be required to take a breathalyzer test. In some jurisdictions, a scented air freshener in your car may lead the police officer to require a breathalyzer test even if they don’t suspect that you are under the influence.

Last but not least, a scented air freshener may be seen as a sign that you are aware there is an odor in your car that you are trying to mask.

If a police officer smells an odor in your car and you have an air freshener, it may lead the officer to believe that you are aware of the odor and are attempting to cover it up. The officer may then conclude that you are attempting to hide the smell of drugs.



A pleasant-smelling car may initially please the officer who pulls you over. However, if he or she notices an air freshener, that scent may become the basis for a series of unwarranted suspicions on the part of the officer. There are many circumstances under which a scented air freshener in your car can result in a high-stakes traffic stop. If you are pulled over and have a scented air freshener in your car, it is advisable to remove it and put it in the trunk.

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