My question involves search and seizure law in the State of: California
I entered into California the other day from Nevada in my private vehicle, a camper van registered in California. I stopped at an agricultural checkpoint and was asked one question: "whatcha got?" Confused by the open-ended question, I just told them I was driving a private camper van and the inspection officer curtly told me "I'm taking a look inside". Feeling my rights were being trampled on, I refused to submit to a search citing my 4th amendment rights. I was then told I could not enter California (my residence) if I did not submit to a search and if I entered the state without a search I would be arrested. Feeling that the Ag officer was overstepping his legal bounds and was not issuing me a legal order, I drove on and proceeded to my home. I was never pulled over or contacted by CHP or other law enforcement after entering the state.
For over 25 years I have been driving through these agricultural checkpoints and have never seen or been told anything like this. I think it's very important to note that the Ag officers never asked me if I had any fruits or vegetables or where I was traveling from (like they normally do). They could not see in my van from where they were standing and I had no fruits or vegetables (or anything else illegal for that matter) so they had no probable cause to search my private vehicle. They never actually asked me if they could search the vehicle, they just told me in an arrogant tone they were going to search.
I understand the reasons for searching commercial vehicles, but does the State have the authority to conduct a search of a private vehicle for no other reason than it crossed a state line? Is the refusal to submit to such a search bounds for denying me entry to California from another state?
I am very concerned about this and am looking for some answers. I believe it's an issue that affects all of us. Does anyone know how I can find a copy of the law that states what authority California Agricultural Officers have while conducting Ag inspections? I was able to find a copy of Florida's law (they have the same type of Ag program) and they are not allowed to conduct searches of private vehicles without permission.