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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1

    Default Private Vehicles Subject to Search to Gain Entry to California

    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    3,835

    Default Re: Private Vehicles Subject to Search to Gain Entry to California

    If it is an administrative search, such as at a border crossing/airport, probable cause is not needed.

    Carl who posts here is a CA police officer, maybe he will post with some more specific answers than I can give.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    636

    Default Re: Private Vehicles Subject to Search to Gain Entry to California

    I believe you were at the agriculture check point on I-15 heading west bound into Cali.

    I have been through that check point numerous times in my life as well. The other check point is a suplemental border check point. To prevent illegal immigration. I know of one of these check points on US 78 in south east California.

    By the way the Agricultural Check point is an Administrative Check point and is exempt from the requirement of Probable Cause.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,594

    Default Re: Private Vehicles Subject to Search to Gain Entry to California

    As I understand it, they operate on consent. You either consent, or you turn around and leave. Unlike the federal border checkpoints, the Ag checkpoints are not going to compel a search (to my understanding). However, if they see a box of fruit in the car they just might have probable cause to search at that point.

    I do not know the statutory authority to deny entry, but since Ag departments at the state and local level can impose restrictions on the import and export of fruit, I have to imagine that it is lawful.

    If you wish to sue the state of California and try and become exempt from such inspections, go right ahead and try.

    Perhaps you can find someone at the link below who can answer your questions:

    http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/PHPPS/

    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Private Vehicles Subject to Search to Gain Entry to California

    How can they be allowed to ban entry to a US state for US citizens? Doesn't that violate the inter-state commerce clause? Wasn't that the primary reason for the inter-state commerce clause.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    California
    Posts
    540

    Default Re: Private Vehicles Subject to Search to Gain Entry to California

    Quote Quoting BOR
    If it is an administrative search, such as at a border crossing/airport, probable cause is not needed.
    That is only at an international border crossing or port of entry (such as an airport). Also, I have not seen any cases distinguishing adminstrative searches from criminal searches; they all concern government agents.

    People in the U.S. have a Fifth Amendment right to freely travel within the U.S., with few narrowly tailored exceptions for compelling government interests. Aptheker v. Secretary of State (1964)

    Supposing that it is illegal to bring certain fruit into California, people crossing interstate borders have a Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate themselve. They also have a Fourth Amendment right protected them from unreasonable searches without a warrant.

    I think it is unconstitutional for these government agents to enforce "consent to a search or don't come to California", regardless of whether California has a law or regulation allowing that.

    (Although some people do not like me posting on old threads, I thought enough of the answers were so incorrect as to warrant a response.)

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