Searching the engine air filter during an inventory search was reasonable. United States v. Torres, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 12941 (9th Cir. July 14, 2016). Court’s summary:
The panel held that Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers’ decision to impound the vehicle was permissible under the Fourth Amendment because it was consistent with LVMPD policy and served legitimate caretaking purposes: to promote other vehicles’ convenient ingress and egress to a parking area, and to safeguard the car from vandalism or theft.
The panel held that the district court’s conclusion that an officer’s search of the air filter compartment was authorized by LVMPD policy is not clearly erroneous. The panel held that the LVMPD inventory search policy appears to have been reasonably “designed to produce an inventory,” and ensures sufficient uniformity to protect the owners and occupants of impounded vehicles from the risk that officers will exercise discretion in performing an inventory search only when they suspect they will uncover the fruits of criminal activity. The panel held that in fulfilling his duty to search “all containers,” the officer acted within the parameters of LVMPD policy when he unlatched the air filter compartment, and that the inventory search did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The panel rejected the defendant’s due process challenge to the district court’s order adopting and accepting the magistrate judge’s recommendation that the motion to suppress be denied.