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Do Pennsylvania police need a warrant to search a car for drugs?

As you know, laws can and do change from time to time. And as if this week, Pennsylvania police are no longer required to secure a warrant before searching your car.

Following federal law, Pennsylvania police only need probable cause before searching a vehicle. In the past, officers were required to obtain a warrant before searching a vehicle. The only way around this was if the car's owner gave permission for the search to take place.

This decision was contested, but the end result was a 4 – 2 vote. Justices Max Baer and Debra McCloskey Todd were opposed to the change. In fact, Todd was insistent in saying it was a mistake, noting that the decision "heedlessly contravenes over 225 years of unyielding protection against unreasonable search and seizure which our people have enjoyed as their birthright."

On the other side of the voting were Justices J. Michael Eakin, Seamus P. McCaffery and Thomas G. Saylor, along with Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille.

While this is a big change for Pennsylvania police, it is also something that residents of the state need to be aware of. In the past, if you were pulled over in Pennsylvania, you did not have to worry about police searching your vehicle. Now, they can do so if they have reason to make this decision.

Of course, just because police can search your vehicle does not mean that all your rights have gone out the window. Even so, it is important to know that police can now legally do this. You don't want to fight back, thinking that the law is the way it used to be.

Source: PennLive, "Divided Pa. Supreme Court OKs warrantless searches of cars," Matt Miller, accessed April 19, 2016

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