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Law Enforcement Liability – Courts Say “Go” and “No Go” to Vehicle Tows Under the Community Caretaking Rationale

If you’re a peace officer employed by a CIRSA member, you can readily imagine this scenario:  You arrest the driver of a vehicle on a warrant – you impound the vehicle for safekeeping – you perform an inventory search – you find illegal drugs and weapons and charge the defendant – and the evidence is admissible in court because the impoundment was constitutional under the community caretaking rationale.

Easy enough, right?  In fact, if you’re a veteran officer, you’ve probably experienced this or similar scenarios several times in your career.  After all, vehicle impoundments are a common occurrence and can be a potential source of liability.  And one other thing:  If you’ve been following court decisions on law enforcement activities, you’ve noticed there has been a slew of appellate court decisions in recent months on the constitutionality of impounding vehicles under the “community caretaking” rationale.

Our most recent Blog Post, “Law Enforcement Liability: Courts Say “Go” and “No Go” to Vehicle Tows Under the Community Caretaking Rationale,” is intended to summarize the recent cases and walk you through the factors the courts used to determine if an impoundment using the community caretaker rationale is constitutional. While this liability alert is not intended as a substitute for specific training on your entity’s vehicle impoundment policies, it is designed to aid your review of your current policies in light of the recent court decisions.

For more information about how the courts in these recent cases have narrowed the use of the community caretaking rationale, which in turn has broadened your entity’s risk exposure, read our Blog Post.