NC: Inventory of a wrecked and apparently abandoned vehicle was reasonable

“In either event, the officers were justified in searching the wrecked vehicle to get it out of the ditch for an inventory or for officer safety. Officers searched the vehicle in an effort to find the purported driver’s name or some means of identification. Once they discovered the black and green Nike bag containing drug-like substances and multiple cell phones was discovered, the officer testified ‘the nature of the investigation changed.’ The trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress.” State v. Julius, 2022-NCCOA-135, 2022 N.C. App. LEXIS 142 (Mar. 1, 2022).

There was probable cause for this traffic stop while defendant was carrying a package the police were after. “Defendant appears to argue that the traffic stop was pretextual. However, the argument lacks merit considering clear evidence that a traffic violation was observed. It is well-established that an officer’s pretextual use of a traffic violation does not render a stop constitutionally unreasonable.” United States v. Ortiz-Ortiz, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36169 (W.D.N.Y. Feb. 1, 2022).*

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