Over the years the United States Supreme Court attempted to produce bright-line rules governing the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement. However, the Court's numerous, often confusing decisions in the past eight decades served only to blur those lines. With each attempt to fashion rules that would be workable for both law enforcement in application and lower courts in administration, citizens' Fourth Amendment rights were narrowed. Each time the Court attempted to clarify a rule, it expanded police power to conduct virtually limitless warrantless searches, consistently eviscerating personal privacy rights. The result is an exception originally intended to be narrowly tailored that has strained, then surpassed, its original justifications and now threatens to eliminate the application of the Fourth Amendment's protections within the confines of automobiles.
Erin M. Meadows,
Better-Off Walking: Wyoming v. Houghton Exemplifies What Acevedo Failed to Rectify,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol34/iss1/6