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  1. #1

    Default Can the Police Open a Vehicle Door to Scan the Car Barcode

    My question involves police conduct in the State of: Texas

    So question about this. I recently got a speeding ticket (link to other post) and during the traffic stop, the cop opened my car door to scan the sticker/barcode on the inside of the door frame.

    This was shocking but it happened so fast. The cop just did the scan and then closed the door again.

    Curious to your thoughts on this? This seems like quite the invasion and illegal search and could easily be used for developing probable cause....

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    Well, he could have kept you there and spent the time writing the VIN number down. And had he found something during this non-consent non-search it would have been ruled inadmissible.

    I've noticed on some cards the barcode is now near the windshield visible VIN.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    If it was a "non-search" then things would have been "admissible." The question is whether checking the vin on the door equate to a search. You might want to read through: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/475/106/

  4. #4
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    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    This seems like quite the invasion
    How do you figure?


    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    and illegal search
    Since you told us nothing about why the cop did this, what information he/she obtained as a result, or anything else, I'm not sure why you reach this conclusion.


    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    and could easily be used for developing probable cause.
    Probable cause for what purpose?

  5. #5

    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    I don't want to be rude, but I think maybe you didn't read the OP or understand general PC, searches, and not allowing unwarranted searches....

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    How do you figure?
    umm....because an officer forcibly opens a drivers car door and inspects the inside of the vehicle without warning or probable cause.


    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    Since you told us nothing about why the cop did this, what information he/she obtained as a result, or anything else, I'm not sure why you reach this conclusion.
    Please read the OP. Driver pulled over for speeding>officer opens door to scan vehicle barcode>obtains vehicle details.
    It seems to be generally understood that warrantless searches are not legal.

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    Probable cause for what purpose?
    Have you never heard a story of an officer illegally searching a vehicle because of a paperthin "Probable Cause"?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    In what way is scanning the barcode a search?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    umm....because an officer forcibly opens a drivers car door and inspects the inside of the vehicle without warning or probable cause.
    You are reading something into the facts that is not there. Nothing was said to indicate the door was opened "forcibly." Rather, it sounds like the door was simply opened suddenly by the cop without the consent of the driver. There is a difference; forcibly suggests force was actually used to open the door. That does not seem to be the case here.

    Of course, if nothing was found as a result of the scan then there is nothing to complain about since nothing was obtained that could be used against the driver and no damages were suffered from the several seconds of the car door being open.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    I don't want to be rude, but I think maybe you didn't read the OP or understand general PC, searches, and not allowing unwarranted searches.
    I appreciate your desire not to be rude. However, in the same spirit, after reading your follow up post, I feel quite confident that I understand the relevant law far better than you do.


    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    umm....because an officer forcibly opens a drivers car door and inspects the inside of the vehicle without warning or probable cause.
    That doesn't answer my question, but why you think this was "quite an invasion" isn't really a legal question, so we can move on. Nonetheless, it's worth pointing out that your original post (which I can assure you I read thoroughly before my prior response and have now read again) said nothing about an "inspect[ion] [of] the inside of the vehicle." Rather, your original post said only that the cop opened the door in order to scan the bar code.


    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    Driver pulled over for speeding>officer opens door to scan vehicle barcode>obtains vehicle details.
    What "vehicle details"? My quick google search indicates that, other than make/model/year/VIN, scanning the bar code provides mostly or exclusively information about vehicle maintenance. My guess is that the sole purpose of the scan was to shorten the time for preparation of the ticket. If that's correct, then this is even less of a legal issue.


    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    It seems to be generally understood that warrantless searches are not legal.
    Generally understood by whom?

    The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says nothing about warrantless searches not being legal. Rather, it states as follows: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Section 9 of Article 1 of the Texas Constitution is worded somewhat differently but is functionally identical.

    In other words: (1) in order to be constitutional, searches and seizures must not be unreasonable; and (2) if a warrant is to be issued, it must be supported by probable cause. It does not say that a warrant is required to make a search or seizure legal. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourth Amendment to require warrants in certain circumstances, but there is a general exception for searches associated with automobile stops. In any event, as one of the prior responses mentioned, the first issue is whether a "search" was conducted at all. "Search," in this context, has a more narrow definition than the ordinary dictionary definition, and nothing in your original post compels the conclusion that what happened was a "search." If it wasn't a search, then the reasonableness requirement (much less any requirement for a warrant) doesn't apply. Moreover, since you have now told us that you were pulled over for speeding, a warrantless search incident to lawful arrest was likely permissible.


    Quote Quoting surfer349
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    Have you never heard a story of an officer illegally searching a vehicle because of a paperthin "Probable Cause"?
    I've heard thousands of stories in my life, but I doubt any of them are relevant to your particular situation.

    Ultimately, your goal seems to be to obtain the concurrence of anonymous strangers with your legal conclusions, but you haven't provided the necessary facts to permit a proper assessment of your situation. Among other things, probable cause cannot be evaluated without at least some evidence as to why the cop did what he/she did. Moreover, since you didn't say that anything incriminating was discovered as a result of opening the door for the bar code scan, it seems that this is nothing more than an academic discussion.

  9. #9

    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    Quote Quoting cbg
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    In what way is scanning the barcode a search?
    an officer opening a car door and sticking his head inside the vehicle...i've read plenty of cases that were dismissed because of this behavior

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    Of course, if nothing was found as a result of the scan then there is nothing to complain about since nothing was obtained that could be used against the driver and no damages were suffered from the several seconds of the car door being open.
    This OP was to discuss the behavior in general of a LEO *searching* a vehicle under the guise of "I just need to open your door and look at the sticker*....not this specific incident that was peaceful and found nothing.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: [Tx] Police Opening Door to Scan Car Barcode

    Did you read the case. Looking at the VIN Number is not an illegal search. Whether opening the door is justified depends on circumstance. The case I posted covered opening the door to see the VIN because through the windshield one was blocked with stuff on the dash. There are other cases when the door was opened due to the officer articulating reasonable cause (such as not being able to see what the passengers were doing while obstensibly searching for their registration). However, the narrow scope fo the secisions here imply that just randomly opening the door because you're too lazy to read the number on the dash or whatever, may indeed be unreasonable and invalidate a subsequent search.

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