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Student Project: Searches and Seizures of Automobiles: Getting Started

This research guide facilitates the analysis of the Fourth Amendment for searches and seizures of automobiles under federal and New York State law.


This guide is intended as an aid for students and attorneys who seek assistance with, or a deeper understanding of, searches and seizures of automobiles. The guide is divided by resource type: 

This research guide focuses on searches and seizures of automobiles involving the (1) Scope of the search, (2) Probable cause, (3) Incident to arrest, (4) Inventory, (5) Consent, (6) Plain view, and (7) Standing.

What is Searches and Seizures of Automobiles?


Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

U. S. Const. amend. IV

Differences Between New York State Law and Federal Law

Protections in the New York State Constitution Beyond the Federal Bill of Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment is the foundation for searches and seizures of automobiles. Every state in the United States must follow that foundational protection. However, each state has the option to provide greater protection than the foundation set by the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. And New York has chosen to grant more protection under the New York State constitution than the U.S. Supreme Court has granted interpreting the U.S. Constitution. New York State law grants a passenger in a taxi cab standing to challenge the search of the taxi cab, unlike federal law which does not grant standing to passengers. New York State law considers canine sniffs as searches while the U.S. Constitution does not.


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Allan Kanan
Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
J.D. Expected, May 2019

Types of searches and seizures

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