479 U.S. 367 (1987)
-D was arrested for DUI, his van was towed to an impound lot, and an officer took inventory of the items in the van.
-The officer opened a closed backpack and found controlled substances, cocaine paraphernalia, as well as a large amount of cash.
-D was charged with intent to dispense, sell, deliver, and unlawful possession of meth.
-lower court granted D’s motion to suppress this evidence.
-Colorado Supreme Court affirmed.
-Are inventory searches lacking a warrant based upon probable cause allowed as an exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment?
-Yes. An inventory search may be “reasonable” under the Fourth Amendment even though it is not conducted pursuant to a warrant based upon probable cause.
Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement – Inventory Searches
Reasonable police regulations relating to inventory procedures administered in good faith satisfy the Fourth Amendment, even though courts might as a matter of hindsight be able to devise equally reasonable rules requiring a different procedure.
-By securing the property, the police protect it from unauthorized interference.
-Knowledge of the precise nature of the property helps guard against claims of theft, vandalism, or negligence.
-Such knowledge helps to avert any danger to the police or others that may have been at risk regarding the property.
-It is permissible for police officers to open closed containers in an inventory search only if they are following standard police procedures that that mandate the opening of such containers in every impounded vehicle.
-Where the vehicle itself is not evidence of a crime, as in this case, the police apparently have unbridled discretion as to which procedure to use.
-The court overstates the justification exception to the 4th amendment.
Link to case: 479 U.S. 367 (1987)