Oklahoma man driving a car pulls into a corner store when police pulled him over to execute a warrant for public intoxication. When police arrest someone driving a car, they may impound the car for public safety reasons or leave it there. Impounding the car demands inventory searches. The police chose impoundment. Is the authority to do inventory searches subject to abuse such that police could impound a car as a pretext to search for evidence of a crime? Tenth Circuit: Yes. Impoundment is not an "open-ended license." And because the police impounded the car to look for evidence of crime, we reverse the convictions.
The case is United States v. Woodard, No. 20-5004 (10th Cir. July 26, 2021)