Supreme Court greenlights driver rights in rental car case

Court Watch

The Supreme Court said Monday that people who borrow rental cars from friends or family are generally entitled to the same protections against police searches as the authorized driver.

The justices ruled unanimously that as a general rule someone who is "in otherwise lawful possession and control of a rental car" has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car even if the rental agreement doesn't list the person as an authorized driver. That means police can't generally search the car unless they have a warrant or what's called "probable cause" to believe a crime has been committed.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, noted there "may be countless innocuous reasons why an unauthorized driver might get behind the wheel of a rental car and drive it," including that the renter is drowsy or drunk and that the renter and a friend "think it is safer for the friend to drive them to their destination."

The Trump administration had argued that anyone driving a rental car but not listed on a rental agreement does not have an expectation of privacy in the car. That would mean that police who pulled over a rental car with an unauthorized driver could search the car without the person's consent. The Supreme Court rejected the government's argument, saying it "rests on too restrictive a view" of protections in the Fourth Amendment.

Attorneys arguing for protections for unauthorized drivers had noted that 115 million car rentals take place annually in the United States. They said that if the government won, police would have an incentive to pull over a rental car driver who commits a traffic violation because police would know they could search the car if the driver isn't on the rental agreement.

The case the justices ruled in dates to 2014 and involves Terrence Byrd, who was driving a car rented by his fiance when a state trooper pulled him over on a Pennsylvania highway for an alleged minor traffic violation. He acted nervous during the stop and told troopers he had a marijuana cigarette in the car. Officers eventually decided to search the car.

Because the rental agreement didn't authorize Byrd to drive the car, troopers told him they didn't need his consent for the search. And when troopers opened the trunk, they found body armor and about 2,500 little bags of heroin. Byrd later acknowledged he planned to sell the drugs for roughly $7,000, and a court sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Related listings

  • Court to hear challenge to Winona County's sand mining ban

    Court to hear challenge to Winona County's sand mining ban

    Court Watch 05/04/2018

    Winona County, Minnesota's only county to ban the mining of silica sand for use by the oil and gas industry in hydraulic fracturing, goes to court Monday to defend the ban.Minnesota Sands LLC, which holds extensive mineral rights in southeastern Minn...

  •  Supreme Court to hear appeal of Missouri death row inmate

    Supreme Court to hear appeal of Missouri death row inmate

    Court Watch 04/25/2018

    The Supreme Court agreed Monday to review the case of a Missouri death row inmate who says his rare medical condition could cause him to choke on his own blood during an execution.The justices said they would hear the appeal of inmate Russell Bucklew...

  •  Cosby defense team lobs attacks in court of public opinion

    Cosby defense team lobs attacks in court of public opinion

    Court Watch 04/20/2018

    Jurors weren't allowed to hear testimony that Bill Cosby's chief accuser was once hooked on hallucinogenic mushrooms or had her sights set on becoming a millionaire, but that hasn't stopped the defense from airing the explosive claims about Andrea Co...

Illinois Work Injury Lawyers – Krol, Bongiorno & Given, LTD.

Accidents in the workplace are often caused by unsafe work conditions arising from ignoring safety rules, overlooking maintenance or other negligence of those in management. While we are one of the largest firms in Illinois dedicated solely to the representation of injured workers, we pride ourselves on the personal, one-on-one approach we deliver to each client.

Work accidents can cause serious injuries and sometimes permanent damage. Some extremely serious work injuries can permanently hinder a person’s ability to get around and continue their daily duties. Factors that affect one’s quality of life such as place of work, relationships with friends and family, and social standing can all be taken away quickly by a work injury. Although, you may not be able to recover all of your losses, you may be entitled to compensation as a result of your work injury. Krol, Bongiorno & Given, LTD. provides informed advocacy in all kinds of workers’ compensation claims, including:

• Injuries to the back and neck, including severe spinal cord injuries
• Serious head injuries
• Heart problems resulting from workplace activities
• Injuries to the knees, elbows, shoulders and other joints
• Injuries caused by repetitive movements

For Illinois Workers’ Compensation claims, you will ALWAYS cheat yourself if you do not hire an experienced attorney. When you hire Krol, Bongiorno & Given, Ltd, you will have someone to guide you through the process, and when it is time to settle, we will add value to your case IN EXCESS of our fee. In the last few years, employers and insurance carriers have sought to advance the argument that when you settle a case without an attorney, your already low settlement should be further reduced by 20% so that you do not get a “windfall.” Representing yourself in Illinois is a lose-lose proposition.

Business News

New York Adoption Lawyers Rosin Steinhagen Mendel is a law firm dedicated to serving our clients in New York City. >> read
Chicago Work Accident Lawyers at Krol, Bongiorno & Given have been a leader in the field of workers' compensation law. >> read