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State v. Penney

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-17-2012
Case #: A145722
Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Brewer, J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A145722.pdf

Criminal Procedure: Although a decision regarding what citation to issue gives a police officer discretion regarding whether the vehicle at issue will be impounded, such discretion is constitutionally permissible.

Defendant appealed a judgment of conviction for unlawful possession of cocaine. Defendant produced two expired insurance cards during a traffic stop. After police officers decided to tow the vehicle because Defendant was driving uninsured and the vehicle created a traffic hazard, the officers performed an inventory of its contents and discovered cocaine. Defendant filed a motion to suppress all of the evidence discovered as a result of the inventory. The trial court concluded that suppression was not required based on its finding that officers towed Defendant's vehicle because it presented a traffic hazard. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the search of his vehicle was not a valid administrative inventory and also because the officers were motivated by a desire to search. Defendant contended that the Bureau's Policy and Procedure was invalid because it did not sufficiently limit the officers' discretion concerning whether to tow. The Court of Appeals agreed with the state that, contrary to the trial court's conclusion, an officer's decision to impound a vehicle may involve the exercise of discretion. The Court of Appeals deferred to the trial court and also held that the officers were not improperly influenced by a desire to search when they decided to impound Defendant's vehicle as there was evidence to support the trial court's factual findings. Affirmed.