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
Obama Says Goodbye to America’s Gun Owners with (a Likely Short-lived) Lead Ammo Ban

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Obama Says Goodbye to America’s Gun Owners with (a Likely Short-lived) Lead Ammo Ban

Gun owners knew that Barack Obama would not leave quietly. The only question was what else was coming.  

Federal Appeals Court: Chicago Violates Second Amendment … Again

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Federal Appeals Court: Chicago Violates Second Amendment … Again

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that Chicago had once again violated the Second Amendment, this time with its regulations for gun ranges.

Gun Owners Welcome Donald J. Trump as President of the United States

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gun Owners Welcome Donald J. Trump as President of the United States

Gun owners across the nation breathed a sigh of relief as Donald J. Trump was sworn in Friday morning as the 45th president of the United States.

Web Scraping: A Means to Push the Anti-Gun Agenda

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Web Scraping: A Means to Push the Anti-Gun Agenda

You may have read recently about a “breaking analysis” that includes numbers derived from a “mass shooting tracker,” which purports to present to the world, real world cases in which mass shootings have occurred.  One ...

New Hampshire: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Passes Senate!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Hampshire: Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Passes Senate!

Today, Senate Bill 12, legislation eliminating the requirement to obtain a permit in order to lawfully carry, passed the Senate without amendment, by a 13-10 vote.  SB 12 will now go to the House of ...

New York Times Relies on Gun Prohibitionist Propaganda, Stigmatizes Suicide

News  

Friday, January 20, 2017

New York Times Relies on Gun Prohibitionist Propaganda, Stigmatizes Suicide

In a December 5, 2015, front page editorial, the New York Times finally admitted what discerning readers had long understood – that the paper advocates the prohibition and confiscation of certain types of now-lawfully possessed firearms. ...

Your Members of Congress Need to Hear from You on the Hearing Protection Act of 2017

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Your Members of Congress Need to Hear from You on the Hearing Protection Act of 2017

On Monday, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) – joined by co-sponsors Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Rand Paul (R-KY) – introduced S. 59, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (HPA). Similar legislation was introduced in the ...

Alert: WA State Proposes Draconian Gun Ban Bills

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Alert: WA State Proposes Draconian Gun Ban Bills

Inspired, perhaps, by Oscar Wilde (“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess”), Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced two new sweeping gun control bills, with Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) and Rep. ...

National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

News  

Friday, January 13, 2017

National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

On January 3rd, Congressman Richard Hudson (R-N.C.8th) introduced H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which simply allows lawful firearm carriers from any state to carry a concealed firearm in any other state. The bill ...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Florida Urgent Alert! Self-defense Bill up in Senate Judiciary on Tuesday 1/24/2017

A critical self-defense bill will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, between 2:00-4:00pm.  SB-128 Burden of Proof by Senator Rob Bradley restores the presumption of innocence in self-defense cases ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
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.