Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Pennsylvania High Court Abandons Warrant Requirement for Automobile Searches

Friday, May 2, 2014

This past Tuesday, in a four to two decision, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided that police officers can search an automobile without a warrant as long as the officers have probable cause that they will find contraband or evidence of a crime.  A lengthy majority opinion compared state and federal protections against unreasonable searches.   

The case raised the issue of whether Pennsylvania's warrant requirement, contained in Article I, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, provides more protection for automobile searches than the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  With the 1925 case of Carroll v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed the so-called “automobile exception” to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, and federal courts have since found increasing justifications for allowing warrantless searches of motor vehicles. The Carroll opinion, however, required the use of warrants when doing so remained practical.

The original justification for the “automobile exception” was in part due to the limitations of technology at the time Carroll was decided.  The Carroll court determined that the warrant requirement was inapplicable to automobiles because of the mobile nature of automobiles as opposed to fixed structures and the amount of time it would take to get a warrant in 1925.  Nevertheless, the “automobile exception”, as it is applied today in federal courts requires only that a police officer have probable cause that a search of the vehicle will result in discovery of evidence of a crime or contraband. 

While some might argue that the original justification for the “automobile exception” has been undermined by modern technology (such as computer terminals in police cruisers) that can reduce the time of the warrant application process, it nonetheless remains the law in most U.S. states, and, as of Tuesday, is now the law in Pennsylvania as well.

Two justices dissented from the opinion, noting that Pennsylvania’s constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure predated those of the U.S. Constitution.  According to the dissenting justices, the Pennsylvania provision “enshrined the requirement of specific warrants issued by a neutral judge as an integral part of our state constitutional framework and, correspondingly, established such warrants as the main protection of the substantial privacy interests of our citizenry in every place where they choose to keep their most private papers and possessions.” Considering the “singular and distinctive importance to Pennsylvania” of the warrant requirement and the historical events that led to its enactment, they would have maintained the greater protection offered by prior Pennsylvania case law.

Those traveling with firearms in motor vehicles should remain aware of both their responsibilities and their rights. While motorists should never interfere with or try to run from the police, they do not have to give their permission for searches of themselves or their vehicles nor, as a general matter, to answer questions beyond identifying themselves and producing license, registration, and insurance documents. Those carrying concealed firearms pursuant to a license in Pennsylvania must also produce that license upon lawful demand of a police officer.

TRENDING NOW
Anti-gun Propaganda Infiltrates History Channel’s Navy SEAL Drama “Six”

News  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Anti-gun Propaganda Infiltrates History Channel’s Navy SEAL Drama “Six”

With shows like “Tales of the Gun” and “Mail Call” with R. Lee Ermey, the History Channel has often served as a place where gun owners can enjoy entertainment free from the anti-gun political messaging ...

Federal Appellate Court Upholds Decision to Block California’s Magazine Surrender Requirement

News  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Federal Appellate Court Upholds Decision to Block California’s Magazine Surrender Requirement

Last summer, we reported on the welcome news that a federal court had blocked California’s plan to require owners of “large capacity” magazines to surrender or otherwise rid themselves of their formerly-lawful property. As the judge in ...

Gallup: Gun Control Not High on List of Problems

News  

Gun Laws  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Gallup: Gun Control Not High on List of Problems

Gallup’s July survey found that the number of Americans who cited guns or gun control as the most important problem facing America had returned to levels similar to before the shooting in Parkland, Fla. This month, ...

Moms Demand Action Reportedly Told Candidate Not to Talk about Support for Gun Ban

News  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Moms Demand Action Reportedly Told Candidate Not to Talk about Support for Gun Ban

Another chapter in the lengthy tale of gun control duplicity was written last week. On July 10, The Washington Free Beacon published a report of a video of Democratic nominee for New York’s rural upstate 21st congressional district Tedra ...

News  

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Federal Court Upholds Decision to Block California’s Magazine Ban

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit issued a ruling in the case of Duncan v. Becerra on Tuesday upholding a lower court’s decision to suspend enforcement of California’s restriction on the possession of magazines ...

Washington: Seattle City Council Passes Ordinance Making Firearms Unavailable for Self-Defense

Monday, July 16, 2018

Washington: Seattle City Council Passes Ordinance Making Firearms Unavailable for Self-Defense

On July 9th, the Seattle City Council passed a mandatory firearm storage ordinance to restrict the self-defense rights of Seattle residents.  The ordinance, if signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, will impose a one-size-fits-all method of storing firearms as ...

Israel Set to Further Embrace Armed Citizenry to Promote Public Safety

News  

Gun Laws  

Friday, July 20, 2018

Israel Set to Further Embrace Armed Citizenry to Promote Public Safety

After a spate of terror attacks in 2015, Israel opted to loosen its firearms restrictions so that more citizens could help to defend themselves and their communities. According to a recent report from Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Ministry ...

Washington: NRA and SAF File Lawsuit Against City of Seattle

Friday, July 20, 2018

Washington: NRA and SAF File Lawsuit Against City of Seattle

On Friday, July 20th, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan, and others, to invalidate the mandatory firearm storage ordinance that was recently passed by ...

Illinois: Governor Signs Two Gun Control Bills

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Illinois: Governor Signs Two Gun Control Bills

On July 17th, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 2354 and Senate Bill 3256 into law.

Anti-gun Efforts to Expand U.N. Regulations to Ammunition Continue

News  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Anti-gun Efforts to Expand U.N. Regulations to Ammunition Continue

Shortly before 4:00am last Saturday morning, the two week long Third Review Conference (RevCon3) on the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.