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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82199 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Impounding, Towing, Search and Inventory of Vehicles - First Edition
Corporate Author: Northwestern University Traffic Institute
United States of America
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 27
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Northwestern University Traffic Institute
Evanston, IL 60204
Sale Source: Northwestern University Traffic Institute
405 Church Street
P.O. Box 1409
Evanston, IL 60204
United States of America

National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This publication discusses the legal aspects associated with the seizure of vehicles, with attention to the sequence of events leading up to the lawful seizure and the subsequent governmental action in regard to vehicles.
Abstract: A common thread running through most instances in which Government agents 'seize' a vehicle is the conflict between (1) the Government's interest in crime prevention and resolution and traffic safety and movement and (2) the vehicle owner's constitutional right to due process and to be free from unreasonable seizure and search of property. U.S. Supreme Court decisions are reviewed which apply to these circumstances. All seizures and searches of vehicles by Government officials must comply with the requirements of the fourth amendment. Seizures and searches without a warrant are unreasonable unless they fall within one of the 'exceptions' which the courts have adopted by case law. Nonevidentiary seizures of vehicles must conform to the due process rights of the 14th amendment. Governmental or private retention of vehicles as 'security' for payment of fine, as well as towing and storage charges are uncertain. The propriety of the governmental action will be determined by the 'swiftness' with which the legality of the seizure and towing is adjudicated. A violation of a vehicle owner's constitutional rights under the 4th and 14th amendments may subject the offending public official and the employing municipality to a Federal civil rights suit under Sec. 1983 or to a State civil suit under a theory of conversion or illegal deprivation of property. Recent decisions pertaining to the 4th and 14 amendment right of vehicle owners and operators require public officials and police administrators to review their vehicle seizure and retention practices to ensure that they are constitutionally sound. A total of 119 notes and appended recent court cases are given.
Index Term(s): Automobiles; Right to Due Process; Search and seizure laws; Warrantless search
Note: Part of the Know the Law Series
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