Police may not conduct warrantless searches of motor vehicles on the basis of finding drugs on someone who had just left the car, says the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The Newark Star-Ledger says the unanimous decision was praised by public defenders who said it provides protection from unreasonable searches. State attorneys argued that the search conducted a Paterson, N.J., case, was justified because police had found a large quantity of drugs on a man who had just gotten out of a car.
The court said police can stop someone and conduct a search after the person gets out of a vehicle, but cannot search the car unless there is probable cause to believe a crime is being committed. In yesterday’s case, the court said there was no cause to search the car, noting that the man found with the drugs was not the driver, and that the driver had valid credentials and had committed no motor vehicle violations.