Topic: Transportation

Last updated: August 14, 2019

Automobile searches are an exception to the Fourth Amendments’ warrant requirement. A warrantless search of an automobile is permissible when there is probable cause to believe the vehicle contains evidence of a crime and securing a warrant is impractical. The courts developed a reduced privacy rationale that explained the configuration, use and regulation of automobiles may dilute the expectation of privacy exist. The vehicle has less privacy because it functions is transportation and is not used as a residence or as a repository of personal belongings. This reduced privacy was also extended to mobile homes as well.

Although mobile homes serves as residence to some, the courts extended the automobile exception to them as well because the mobile home is licensed for vehicular travel. As stated before, there must be probable cause to search a vehicle. An officer cannot make random stops of vehicles on the road. If the police stop a vehicle there has to be probable cause or reasonable suspicion. When a stop has been made all parties inside the vehicle are considered as briefly seized from the moment the vehicle stops.

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Police officers are permitted to conduct a frisk of the parties in search of contraband. If the officer has reasonable suspicion that there is contraband inside the vehicle, they can proceed to search the vehicle. If it is discovered that there is contraband inside the vehicle, the vehicle will be seized and suspects will be arrested.


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