Can the police search a vehicle with only a warrant to tow?

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Can the police search a vehicle with only a warrant to tow?

Vehicle was towed from private property and was not used in the crime in question.

Asked on February 8, 2011 under Criminal Law, Colorado

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The police could search the vehicle.  First, they could search the vehicle if they had probable cause, a reasonable belief that it was used in the crime, they could search for contraband.  This would be in furtherance of their investigation of the crime.  The police could also search the vehicle because contraband or other items could endanger their safety or the safety of others.

If the police did not have probable cause to reasonably believe the vehicle was used in a crime, they could still search the impounded vehicle.  The purpose of this search would be for an inventory of the contents; otherwise, the owner could subsequently claim that items were missing from the vehicle that may not have been there prior to the impoundment.


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