CA10: Inventory not shown to be justified by standardized criteria and suppressed

The impoundment and inventory in this case were not shown to follow standardized criteria or policy. The vehicle was on a parking lot and not impeding traffic or any kind of risk to safety. No legitimate community caretaking purpose was shown. United States v. Sanders, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 13867 (10th Cir. August 7, 2015):

We consider the constitutionality of a decision to impound a vehicle based on a community-caretaking justification. Such impoundments have been the topic of substantial debate and disagreement among our sibling circuits. In this case, police, for reasons not articulated in any policy, impounded a vehicle lawfully parked in a private lot after arresting its driver as she exited a store. They made no meaningful attempt to allow the driver, her companion, or the owner of the parking lot to make alternative arrangements. The district court granted a motion to suppress contraband found in the vehicle, and the United States filed an interlocutory appeal. After surveying Supreme Court and Tenth Circuit precedent as well as persuasive authority from other circuits, we hold that when a vehicle is not impeding traffic or impairing public safety, impoundments are constitutional only if guided by both standardized criteria and a legitimate community-caretaking rationale. We conclude that the impoundment at issue in this case is unconstitutional for two reasons: it was not guided by standardized criteria, and was not justified by a legitimate community-caretaking rationale. Under our holding, either failure alone would be sufficient to establish unconstitutionality. Exercising jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3731, we AFFIRM the district court’s grant of the motion to suppress.

This entry was posted in Inventory. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.