Im just curious to know if the same rules of lawful and unlawful searches apply to your car than what applies to your house?


1 Answer 1


Not at all.

Under the Fourth Amendment, your house is where "privacy expectations are most heightened," and it is therefore generally the most difficult place to obtain a warrant to search. California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207, 213 (1986).

But the courts treat vehicles very differently. Because of "the pervasive regulation of vehicles capable of traveling on the public highways," and because a vehicle "can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought," courts hold that the societal interests in enforcing the law generally outweigh any personal interest in privacy. California v. Carney, 471 U.S. 386, 393 (1985).

So while the general rule is that if an officer wants to search someone's home, he must first establish probable cause and then obtain a warrant, a search of a vehicle merely requires that the officer establish probable cause first -- no warrant necessary.

  • This seems to be contrary to at least one popular culture reference - youtu.be/6uikJTnmtgw?t=56
    – Neil Meyer
    Feb 10, 2022 at 17:16
  • In fairness, he's far from a Harvard student.
    – bdb484
    Feb 10, 2022 at 19:28

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