Ken is a NJ trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on litigation topics. He has been selected to write the new ABA book: DUI and Drug Possession Defense".
Sunday, December 20, 2015
In a 5-2 ruling in State v. Witt, the court made it easier for police to conduct warrantless vehicle searches
On Sept. 24, the Supreme Court issued another highly anticipated ruling: In a 5-2 ruling in State v. Witt, the court made it easier for police to conduct warrantless vehicle searches, overturning its own six-year-old standard that required both probable cause and exigent circumstances. The court found that the standard it set in the 2009 case State v. Pena-Flores was unworkable and instead led to a situation where too many motorists who were stopped along the state's roads were being asked by police to sign forms consenting to a search of their vehicles. In Witt, the court reverted to a standard set in 1981, which allows the warrantless search of a vehicle when police have probable cause to believe that it contains contraband or evidence of a crime and where circumstances giving rise to probable cause are unforeseeable and spontaneous.
Witt followed the court's March ruling retroactively applying a two-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision that said police generally must obtain a search warrant when taking blood from suspected intoxicated drivers. In a unanimous ruling in State v. Adkins, the court said it had no choice but to apply the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Missouri v. McNeely to all cases currently pending before trial or on appeal in which blood samples were drawn.