Search in vehicle incident to arrest

When you are stopped for a motor vehicle violation, the Police officer often is making an on the spot decision on whether or not to search your vehicle based upon possible probable cause factors or just because. Sometimes the owner of the vehicle will give the officer permission to search. This is usually not recommended to give Law enforcement unfettered access to your automobile. One problem is cars are mobile. Police Officer(s) will believe you will thus transport the evidence not yet located or discovered (if there even isn’t any) to another location to destroy. So there is reluctance to let you go and a challenge to search and find something. Should the officer pull you out of the car after the stop and handcuff you it is arguable that now he needs a warrant absent any plain view discoveries. This is true especially if one officer has searched the car with limited results and now another officer of dog is conducting a more extensive search.

. This matter is controlled by the Mississippi Supreme Court case of White v. State, 735 So.2d 221 (Miss. 1999). White involved two male siblings and a vehicle search of a truck. Elwood White was sitting on the driver’s side with his brother William White standing near the passenger side of the vehicle. White, 735 So.2d at 222 (¶3). William White was approached by an officer and arrested for violation of Crystal Spring’s open container law at which point he was handcuffed. Id. Elwood White was subjected to a Terry-type frisk by another officer which revealed three-bullets in his shirt pocket but no weapon.
However, a handgun was discovered in the truck, the handle of which was in plain view. Id. Elwood White was then placed in handcuffs. The second officer subsequently returned to the truck for an additional search and discovered a medicine bottle which was lying under a jacket. The bottle was opened by that officer and found to contain a substance believed to be crack cocaine. Elwood White was then arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Id. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that under these circumstances, “Once the Whites had been handcuffed and secured, the search incident to arrest of either party ended.” This does not preclude the ever called for inventory search if the vehicle is impounded but at that point there is not reason not to secure a warrant.