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  • Inventory Search

    Hey all-

    I have a question for anyone out there dealing with inventory searches of vehicles. I bring this up because one of our judges just granted a defense motion to suppress based upon evidence found during an inventory search of a vehicle which was towed after a traffic stop. Here is a brief summary of the details. One of our officers stopped a vehicle and the driver was found to have a revoked dl. He was removed from the vehicle and placed in back of officers sqd. The officer decided to impound the vehicle because there was no valid driver. During the inventory search suspected meth was found in the vehicle. When the driver was placed under arrest and searched more meth was found on his person. The defense atty argued that according to mn statute (cant remember number, it deals with towing vehs) a vehicle can only be towed 4 hours after having a citation issued when the vehicle poses no threat to traffic flow. The judge agreed and the evidence found in veh and on suspects person was suppressed. The judge stated that according to mn statue the vehicle should have been left on the road and the suspect should have been given a citation and released. This seems like REALLY bad precedent. I'm wondering if this is something that has been brought up at your depts and we had just been lucky or does this represent a change that will be coming for all of us? Seems to me that the only option is to start making custodial arrests for dar/das, allowing me to search pass compartment of veh incident to arrest. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Originally posted by dep126
    Hey all-

    I have a question for anyone out there dealing with inventory searches of vehicles. I bring this up because one of our judges just granted a defense motion to suppress based upon evidence found during an inventory search of a vehicle which was towed after a traffic stop. Here is a brief summary of the details. One of our officers stopped a vehicle and the driver was found to have a revoked dl. He was removed from the vehicle and placed in back of officers sqd. The officer decided to impound the vehicle because there was no valid driver. During the inventory search suspected meth was found in the vehicle. When the driver was placed under arrest and searched more meth was found on his person. The defense atty argued that according to mn statute (cant remember number, it deals with towing vehs) a vehicle can only be towed 4 hours after having a citation issued when the vehicle poses no threat to traffic flow. The judge agreed and the evidence found in veh and on suspects person was suppressed. The judge stated that according to mn statue the vehicle should have been left on the road and the suspect should have been given a citation and released. This seems like REALLY bad precedent. I'm wondering if this is something that has been brought up at your depts and we had just been lucky or does this represent a change that will be coming for all of us? Seems to me that the only option is to start making custodial arrests for dar/das, allowing me to search pass compartment of veh incident to arrest. Any feedback would be appreciated.
    That's got to be a Minn statute thing.....as in Missouri, we can do inventory searches and tows for every arrest that involved a motor vehicle.....

    Sorry to hear that...'cause that sucks......

    Comment


    • #3
      Well...the driver had a revoked DL, so he wasn't going to be able to drive the vehicle. It's the Officer's discretion on what to do with the vehicle, and leaving the vehicle in the roadway isn't an option (sub 8), so that means it's time to tow it. Well, obviously once the vehicle is going to be towed, an inventory search is to be done.

      I think that is BS that it got thrown out...
      Last edited by Ten10; 04-04-2007, 04:40 AM.
      It's better to be tried by twelve than carried by six...

      Comment


      • #4
        Disagree

        There is case law in the 4th US Circuit that states if when you arrested the subject and the vehicle is legally parked, you cannot impound; therefore you cannot inventory.
        "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm" -George Orwell

        "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing diapers." - Blues Brothers

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by grumpyirishman
          There is case law in the 4th US Circuit that states if when you arrested the subject and the vehicle is legally parked, you cannot impound; therefore you cannot inventory.
          He never stated where the vehicle was parked. If it was in the middle of a roadway, where almost all traffic stops are, it's not legally parked...it's obstructing traffic and must be towed. Now sometimes if there is a valid driver available, yeah, but there wasn't.
          It's better to be tried by twelve than carried by six...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ten10
            He never stated where the vehicle was parked. If it was in the middle of a roadway, where almost all traffic stops are, it's not legally parked...it's obstructing traffic and must be towed. Now sometimes if there is a valid driver available, yeah, but there wasn't.
            Ah, but he did say in the ruling, if it poses no threat to traffic flow, which I take to mean legally parked. Just showing all sides of a legal opinion!!
            "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm" -George Orwell

            "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing diapers." - Blues Brothers

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by grumpyirishman
              There is case law in the 4th US Circuit that states if when you arrested the subject and the vehicle is legally parked, you cannot impound; therefore you cannot inventory.

              Then there are lots of agencies violating that ruling back home......as we damn near towed all the time....along with area agencies and the State Patrol.

              Not saying it was right....just saying that's what we did and were never challeneged on it.....

              Comment


              • #8
                Dude, that sucks. You must be in Hennepin County. Obviously without seeing the police report myself and seeing what the officer/deputy wrote, i cannot comment too accurately on it, but if he had no reasonable suspicion that there may have been illegal narcotics in the vehicle, then the judge would be correct. I hate to speak ill of other officers stops or to Monday morning QB, but had the officer done a thorough search of the suspect before placing him in the squad as a SIA and subsequently found the meth on his person, then the meth found in the car would be admissible. Otherwise, the officer/deputy just needs to remember next time to articulate how the vehicle posed a risk to traffic flow.
                "In valor, there is hope" - Tacitus

                He's westbound through the houses!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  That is unlike anything I have ever heard in Minnesota. The 4th Circuit doesn't mean bunk here in Minnesota. I haven't heard of any decisions like this anywhere in Minnesota or the 8th Circuit. Hopefully the County attorney will be appealing it immediately. I'll do some research and let you know what I find out.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Why wouldn't you arrest the guy for misdemeanor DAR? Then you can search the guy and car incident to arrest. Just an idea.
                    No, you've got the wrong number. This is 9-1....2.
                    - Police Chief Clancy Wiggum

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, this guy has a good attorney. I hope he gets his monies worth!

                      169.041 TOWING AUTHORIZED.
                      Subdivision 1. Towing authority. For purposes of this section, "towing authority" means any
                      local authority authorized by section 169.04 to enforce the traffic laws, and also includes a private
                      towing company authorized by a local authority to tow vehicles on behalf of that local authority.
                      Subd. 2. Towing order required. A towing authority may not tow a motor vehicle from public property unless a peace officer or parking enforcement officer has prepared, in addition to the parking citation, a written towing report describing the motor vehicle and the reasons for towing. The report must be signed by the officer and the tow driver.
                      Subd. 3. Four-hour waiting period. In enforcing state and local parking and traffic laws, a towing authority may not tow, or allow or require the towing of, a motor vehicle from public property for a parking or traffic violation until four hours after issuance of the traffic ticket or citation, except as provided in this section or as provided for an unauthorized vehicle in section 168B.04.
                      Subd. 4. Towing allowed. A towing authority may tow a motor vehicle without regard to the four-hour waiting period if:
                      (1) the vehicle is parked in violation of snow emergency regulations;
                      (2) the vehicle is parked in a rush-hour restricted parking area;
                      (3) the vehicle is blocking a driveway, alley, or fire hydrant;
                      (4) the vehicle is parked in a bus lane, or at a bus stop, during hours when parking is
                      prohibited;
                      (5) the vehicle is parked within 30 feet of a stop sign and visually blocking the stop sign;
                      (6) the vehicle is parked in a disability transfer zone or disability parking space without a
                      disability parking certificate or disability license plates;
                      (7) the vehicle is parked in an area that has been posted for temporary restricted parking (i)
                      at least 12 hours in advance in a home rule charter or statutory city having a population under
                      50,000, or (ii) at least 24 hours in advance in another political subdivision;
                      (8) the vehicle is parked within the right-of-way of a controlled-access highway or within the
                      traveled portion of a public street when travel is allowed there;
                      (9) the vehicle is unlawfully parked in a zone that is restricted by posted signs to use by fire,
                      police, public safety, or emergency vehicles;
                      (10) the vehicle is unlawfully parked on property at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International
                      Airport owned by the Metropolitan Airports Commission;
                      (11) a law enforcement official has probable cause to believe that the vehicle is stolen, or
                      that the vehicle constitutes or contains evidence of a crime and impoundment is reasonably
                      necessary to obtain or preserve the evidence;
                      (12) the driver, operator, or person in physical control of the vehicle is taken into custody
                      and the vehicle is impounded for safekeeping;
                      (13) a law enforcement official has probable cause to believe that the owner, operator,
                      or person in physical control of the vehicle has failed to respond to five or more citations for
                      parking or traffic offenses;
                      (14) the vehicle is unlawfully parked in a zone that is restricted by posted signs to use
                      by taxicabs;
                      (15) the vehicle is unlawfully parked and prevents egress by a lawfully parked vehicle;
                      (16) the vehicle is parked, on a school day during prohibited hours, in a school zone on a
                      public street where official signs prohibit parking; or
                      (17) the vehicle is a junk, abandoned, or unauthorized vehicle, as defined in section
                      168B.011, and subject to immediate removal under chapter 168B.
                      Subd. 5. Towing prohibited. Unless the vehicle is described in subdivision 4, a towing
                      authority may not tow a motor vehicle because:
                      (1) the vehicle has expired registration tabs that have been expired for less than 90 days;
                      (2) the vehicle is at a parking meter on which the time has expired and the vehicle has
                      fewer than five unpaid parking tickets.
                      Subd. 6. Private property. This section does not restrict the authority of the owner of private
                      property to authorize under chapter 168B the towing of a motor vehicle unlawfully parked on
                      the private property.
                      Subd. 7. Damages. The owner or driver of a motor vehicle towed in violation of this section
                      is entitled to recover from the towing authority the greater of $100 or two times the actual damages
                      sustained as a result of the violation. Damages recoverable under this subdivision include but are
                      not limited to costs of recovering the vehicle, including time spent and transportation costs.
                      History: 1989 c 256 s 1; 1990 c 503 s 1; 1992 c 580 s 1; 1994 c 536 s 19; 1995 c 137 s
                      10-12; 2005 c 56 s 1
                      We intimidate those who intimidate others.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've been doing a little legal research on this. I can find no case precedent for what the attorney argued. Defense attorneys are a tight bunch, and I found a case about a year back when another attorney tried to argue this same thing on appeal. Because the attorney in that case didn't properly preserve it for the appeal, the court didn't decide on it. The court did say, however: "We decline to address this issue because it was not raised in the district court. We note, however, that appellant has failed to provide any authority that a violation of Minn.Stat. § 169.041 triggers application of the exclusionary rule."

                        What defense attorneys do is share theories like this, and then they raise it in cases until a judge accepts it. Then, it gets appealed, and the court of appeals will slap the judge's hand, and will reverse it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          (12) the driver, operator, or person in physical control of the vehicle is taken into custody and the vehicle is impounded for safekeeping;

                          From what I read of your situation, this seems applicable.
                          We routinely search vehicles incident to arrest and/or tow. I haven't had any come back to bite me yet.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Yeah, but you can't arrest for a DAR, DAS and such unless you have an extenuating circumstance.
                            We intimidate those who intimidate others.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Medici
                              Yeah, but you can't arrest for a DAR, DAS and such unless you have an extenuating circumstance.
                              Sure you can I do it all the time...you just have to put in your report why you booked them, ie won't show for court, continued crimminal conduct...
                              Happy to be here proud to serve

                              "Well it appears this lock does not accept american express."

                              Never trust fire fighters to point out a suspect.

                              Comment

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