D.Utah: Automobile exception permits search under the hood

The automobile exception permits a search under the hood, even if it is not the most likely spot to find drugs and a weapon. Here, a clip was found in the car, and the gun it belonged to under the hood with drugs. United States v. Collins, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36301 (D. Utah Feb. 29, 2024).

“Officers further provided information which leads the Court to conclude that they had reasonable suspicion to await the arrival of a canine unit. Specifically, the officers testified that Defendant seemed nervous, disobeyed instructions, and was making quick movements inside the vehicle. Additionally, Ms. McLaughlin’s explanation for where they had been did not add up, and officers observed bags in the back seat of the car which were indicative of overnight travel in contradiction to Ms. McLaughlin’s story. When these facts are considered in conjunction with the information Det. Altman had gathered from his sources about Defendant being a drug dealer who was generally armed, and the knowledge the detective had through use of the pen register that Defendant was returning from out-of-state travel consistent with a drug buy, officers also had reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot sufficient to warrant the extension of the stop for further investigation.” United States v. Chapman, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34321 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 12, 2024),* adopted, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33418 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 12, 2024).*

Officers surveilling a mall parking lot saw two suspicious vehicles where the occupants apparently engaged in a hand-to-hand drug transaction. They were able to stop one, and he admitted the drug deal. That was reasonable suspicion as to the other. United States v. Scales, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34332 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 28, 2024).*

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