PA Supreme Court Ruling: Police Do Not Need Search Warrant to Search Vehicles

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WEST HAZLETON -- A ruling by the state Supreme Court makes it easier for police to search your car even without a warrant.

This week's ruling by the state Supreme Court concerned a traffic stop and drug arrest that happened about four years ago in Philadelphia. The ruling allows police to search a vehicle without the driver's permission and without a warrant, if they find probable cause.

Plenty of drivers have been there: those flashing lights; a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop.

West Hazleton's police chief says his department pulls over nearly 500 vehicles each month. About 75 of those traffic stops lead to arrests for drugs or other charges.

“We're always looking beyond that traffic stop to see what's going on," said West Hazleton Police Chief Brian Buglio.

In the past if a police officer asked to search a car…

“If the officer would smell marijuana for instance," said Buglio.

If the driver said no, that officer would have to get a search warrant signed by a judge.

However, a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court just changed that. Now, if police want to search your car they won't need a search warrant any more. All they'll need now is probable cause.

The idea isn't sitting well with some drivers.

“My car is private property just as my house. If they can go in my car, the next step is going to be my house and nobody has any right to be in my house at all,” said Susanne Evancho from Hazleton.

“If it's going to cut down on the crime, on drugs, I'm all for it."

"I think that it's something that infringes on people's rights, but at the same time police got to do what they got to do." said Joseph Yisrael from Hazleton.

“We still need probable cause to search that vehicle. We can't just go and search that vehicle without probable cause," said Buglio.

Probable cause could be something such as smelling or seeing drugs in the car.

Chief Brian Buglio says the rule is more lenient than before, but is now in line with federal law.

“The laws are the laws and we got to follow them. Whether we like it or not the laws are the laws," said Yisrael.

Several other states have followed this guideline for years. This doesn't mean police will search every car they stop. They still need probable cause to search a vehicle.

You can read the full PA Supreme Court opinion by clicking here.


  • richard

    All of you have to be doing something illegal. If drugs or drug instruments are seen in a vehice why shouldent be searched?

  • scarolina

    When we start doing this, These tyrants will get the message: ” This ruling is merely an opinion, it’s not law. And it violates U.S. Code title 18 a felony(violation of a protected right under the color of law). And it violates the oath of office police officers take a part of their employment. Solution? Ask officers for a copy of their ID, oath and commercial bond. Then file lawsuit against them in their PERSONAL CAPACITY and file federal criminal charges against them under 18USC. IT WOULD ONLY TAKE A FEW PEOPLE DOING THIS FOR THINGS TO CHANGE. IS ANY ONE WILLING TO DO IT? THAT’S THE REAL QUESTION.”

  • christa


  • WildBill@WB

    “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”
    Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

    • scarolina

      WildB, your spot on. The issue here facing us as a “FREE” nation government has been on this agenda for a one hundred years or more depend on which Right or Amendment we are talking about. I’m afraiad this country more near the end of the road in this respect than the indocturnated “PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATED masses even realize. Sort of like the frog in pot of warming water syndrome/experiment. If one was never taught about the importance of exercising their “RIGHTS” on a daily bases then what more can we expect when a tyranical government takes hold like it is.

      • WildBill@WB

        A couple more quotes on education.

        “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future… When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already.’ … What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.”
        – Adolf Hitler

        “Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”
        —Communist dictator, Joseph Stalin (1934)

  • tom

    Good idea-maybe get drug dealers & some guns off the streets.One problem would be certain groups of people crying the blues they were targeted because of race or their ethnic backround.Then again they are the ones often guilty of drugs & illegal firearms.

    • scarolina

      Tom, you are of the same mindset as these BLACK ROBE TYRANTS evidently do not value your rights as much as your Founding Fathers did and fought so hard to secure for your “FREEDOMS” without the interference of government. You type sir, just like these BLACK ROBE TYRANTS that does not put a value on your and my unalieanble Rights does not need to be living in this country,maybe the USSR might be more to you liking.

  • DonJuan Mallory

    Well, looks like its time to move to another country before they say they can search your house without a warrant, you know its gonna happen, not soon but expected. Do Svidaniya Amerika

    • fly

      Next is our houses and it wont be for just drugs. The reason why we have the 4th amendment so we have privacy. it clearly no warrant shall be given without probable cause as stating in the 4th. Over grass are you kidding me. Well they lie anyways now they wont have to they can just search if they want to. you would think if us supreme court set free a convicted rapist Marinda for violating his constitutional rights having a little bit of weed would also be protected. Just another example how we are losing our rights every day. At first you couldn’t finger print. now they can take our blood. Next will our homes. And stupid people ilke above are fine to give up their rights. That how dumb we grow em in US of a. Yeah let the search without a warrant. They passé it so it must be right.

  • Kyle

    Wake up PA. This is our 4th amendment right being stripped away from us. It’s time to realize that our government is being taken over by tyrants, and the police force is their pawns. “To protect and serve” is a motto long outdated. They’re here to invade your privacy and fill quotas. If you can’t see that then you’re blind. I won’t be having any of this. It’s time we rally and take a stand behind our constitution. As many have said, first it’s your car, the next step is your home and person. Don’t let it happen.

    • The Antagonizer

      There is no such thing as quotas, know what your talking about,
      and what are you hiding that has you so worried?

      • kylekraemer

        There are quotas, countless retired NYPD officers will tell you that. A lot of them came out during NYC’s “Stop and Frisk” campaign. Confessions from officers saying that their careers were on the line because they weren’t getting enough 250s. You are one of the people that need to wake up. This isn’t being done to protect you or those around you.

        I have nothing to hide. But I have a right to privacy, and so do you. If you don’t care about your rights then you are part of the problem.

        Text of the 4th Ammendment:
        “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

      • DE

        !@kylekraemer I lived in NYC for 45 years and we were never stopped. Most of our friends and family were never stopped. Save for lax inspection stickers, speeding tickets, etc.. I was never stopped. None of us were ever searched. Why? No probable cause. End of story.

    • christa

      they are trying to condition us to the police state,,,,they now have carte blanche to be legalized bullies,,,,time for people to let their voices be heard,,,write to local gvt…SAY NO TO THE NWO

  • Silviano

    gskitt: “We need to pull over and take time out of our day for the traffic stop”.

    Then don’t do anything illegal and then you won’t have to waste your own time.

  • Shawn

    As mentioned in the article….if they can enter my car without my permission next is my home. I am not OK with that! If they want to search it should be with a warrant.

    Oh, and let me get this straight…The old way was even with getting a warrant to search your vehicle, if they have probable cause they can detain you and the vehicle there until K9 or the warrant is signed. So what exactly am I missing? This is just some other way for a goverment system to overcome our lives. What happened to our rights???!!!

    Want a real crime to contend with?? How about the texting and driving. We have found no solution to this crime, other than a law that can not be enforced. It claims over 3,000 lives a year. Stop trying to rewrite our laws and constitution. Clearly you have work to do on other things that must be far more important!

  • Tecnologia geek

    Buglio you know you will check every latino car in hazleto…just like you did with cousin accident repord in favor of the doutha paramedics just because you her farhef .even our car was parked with get a ticke on the mail..funny…but we move over with investigation and the insurance we provide photos and video and everything change..and after that you become chief. ..good conection and good friend s.

  • Chris

    Another spit in the face to the 4th amendment. Just wait until you’re pulled over have have your privacy infringed upon.

  • DE

    One would like to think, “as long as I am doing nothing wrong, I have nothing to worry about!” Dont’ speed, don’t DUI, don’t have illegal weapons, don’t drive without a license, and don’t have drugs in your car! No one should do drugs anyway; they’re bad for ya! But some might have concerns about psycho cops planting things in your car. The incident should require the whole event recorded then.

    • scarolina

      No, they should live by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that they swore to a oath to uphold and enforce, and get the Constitutionally mandated search warrant that is reguired. There was many reasons why this requirment for a third party judge to decide on the facts before issuing the warrant and was put their by our Founding Fathers. They knew the abuses that will occur if done otherwise. Question: One only has to ask one’s self what has really change over 200+ history to allow for this brainless courts tyrant decision.


        the only reason a brain dead judge would pass that law is because they r the law! u name one judge that ever got pulled over and searched after they identifed themselves as a judge! NONE! but they have no problem signing there name on a search warrant why is that? name one time a cop applied for a search warrant and didnt get one? these judges and the cops do whatever they want because no one can stop them, they r the law! i say everyone of us should fight and take our country back from tyrants and bullies with badges! cops are revenue generators for the state to keep the money flowing so that city council members and judges can steal our hard earned money and get kick backs from throwing kids in jail! cops r supposed to b professionals and i say if a cop is caught being dirty of unjust they should b fired and thrown in jail just like everyone else, no second chances because they broke the oath that they swore to uphold and deffend!

      • scarolina

        I agree with for the most part with one exception, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the Supreme law of the land and not the Tyrant Judges. Their obligation to us is first and foremost is to uphold the Constitution and theBill of Rights. Then they are to administer and to enforce the Constitutional Law and not create new law. That my sir is the obligation of the elected Reprensentatives to make Constitutional law. The tyrants are only there to determine the Constitutionality of the created law only and not to change the reading of the Consititution as they did in this instance.

    • Name (required)

      record the whole incident? -and they will arrest you for wiretapping- recording a conversation without their consent- even though as public servants they have no right to privacy and have lost in court many times over charging people for using their cell phones to record them to document them beating people up while hand cuffed. (and I’m not talking about Hazelton)

      what this law is …is unconstitutional!
      bet money on the fact that some people out there would love to see TSA check points at every corner and have people with the same blue gloves sticking their hands in their backsides searching for contraband- know who those people are? the people who make the naked body scanners. …. big companies who run prisons as a business- just like that kids for cash scam here a few years ago…someone will profit from this law change.

      I’m not a drug addict or user, I’m not a criminal – I am offended by this law because it’s unjust -and unconstitutional-

      take them to court – or get on a jury and laugh at them when they say someone violated this law. no convictions means no enforcement-.. and remember EVERYTHING that Hitler did was legal under German law- he was elected too.

      • scarolina

        This ruling is merely an opinion, it’s not law. And it violates U.S. Code title 18 a felony(violation of a protected right under the color of law). And it violates the oath of office police officers take a part of their employment. Solution? Ask officers for a copy of their ID, oath and commercial bond. Then file lawsuit against them in their PERSONAL CAPACITY and file federal criminal charges against them under 18USC. IT WOULD ONLY TAKE A FEW PEOPLE DOING THIS FOR THINGS TO CHANGE. IS ANY ONE WILLING TO DO IT? THAT’S THE REAL QUESTION.

  • Joe shmoe

    And half these cops around here are just as crooked if not more than some of the criminals. All they have to do now is say I smelled an odor of marijuana, and they have probable cause.

  • Christina

    Probable cause, my rear end. That’s like saying they can’t search your car, unless they “see” something suspicious. This does not protect citizens at all. It would be your word vs a badges word and we all know who gets ruled in favor of. Take away our rights to everything private while you’re at it. Here’s a key to my backdoor!

  • gskitt

    This is rediculous. Take all of our rights to our privacy. If your so concerned about drugs hit it from the source not the driver with small amount. This is lazyness at its finest. We need to pull over abd take time out of our day for the traffic stop. But they cannot take time for a warrent? Take all of our rights while your at it. Revolution.

  • scarolina

    Pa. Supreme Cort is stacked with “BLACK ROBE TYRANTS. Their first obligation is to secure and protect the RIGHTS of the PEOPLE under the CONSTITUTION AND BILL OF RIGHTS and not to expand government athuroity. They are just nothing more then ACTIVISTS TYRANTS.

    • DE

      I am more worried about the black-robed idiots who let creepers and losers walk the earth. How many lives might be saved this way to stop people driving around without licenses, drving under the influence, even kidnappers of children. This could save lives. Even yours or mine or of someone we love?

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