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PA Police Car Search Rules Changed


December 22, 2020

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that police can no longer search cars without a warrant unless there is both probable cause to believe a crime occurred and emergency circumstances that require immediate action. That’s a reversal for the court, which in a 2014 opinion in the case Commonwealth v. Gary had cleared the way for warrantless searches. On December 22, 2020, a Philadelphia Inquirer article reported on an analysis found that about 80% of car searches by Philadelphia police involved Black drivers — but police found contraband like guns or drugs in their cars only 12% of the time. You can read the Philadelphia Inquirer article below.


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