Washington Law Review


Since the case of Carroll v. United States, it has become a generally recognized principle of law that an officer may make a search and seizure of an automobile without a warrant, provided that the officer has probable cause to make the search. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States specifically is aimed to protect the people against "unreasonable searches and seizures." The Carroll case is based on the theory that if the other has probable cause the search of an automobile is not an unreasonable search. The distinction drawn is that while the warrant can easily be issued to search a dwelling house, yet because of the necessity of the situation when an officer has probable cause to believe that a moving object such as an automobile or motor boat contains contraband, it would be actually unreasonable to expect the officer to then get a search warrant, because in the meantime the moving object would likely be far beyond the reach of the officer. The Carroll case, supra, which was decided in 1925, has settled the law as far as the United States Supreme Court is concerned, and the principle has since been applied several times in other Federal cases.

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