Arizona Outlaws Warrantless Car Searches– Kinda
By a 3-2 vote, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Fourth Amendment rights prevent police from searching cars without a warrant– even after the driver has been arrested. The Tuscon Citizen quotes Vice Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch's majority opinion: "In this technological age, when warrants can be obtained within minutes, it is not unreasonable to require that police officers obtain search warrants when they have probable cause to do so to protect a citizen's right to be free from unreasonable governmental searches." Prior to the search in question, defendant Rodney Gant had been arrested for driving with a suspended license. Police found cocaine and drug paraphernalia in Gant's car. The Arizona Attorney General's Office's chief criminal appeals lawyer was not a happy camper: "If you arrest the driver, it's not clear when police can search the car and when they can't. Now there is no bright line." It seems this issue is headed back to the Supreme Court.