Court Limits Police Search Of Cars

2009

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Arizona v. Gant that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure prevents police officers from searching the vehicle of a person who has been arrested except in two situations. Those circumstances are: If the person has access to the car and can reach a weapon or tamper with evidence or if the officer believes the car holds evidence related to the arrest. Before, police generally have understood that they were free to search the vehicles of people they had arrested. The majority opinion says the 1981 precedent New York v. Belton was applied too broadly.