Can Police Search for Drugs on Buses During Scheduled Stops ?
In Bostick v. State, the Supreme Court rejected a holding of the Court that "an impermissible seizure results when police mount a drug search on buses during scheduled stops and question boarded passengers without articulable reasons for doing so, thereby obtaining consent to search the passengers' luggage." 501 U.S. at 433 (quoting Bostick v. State, 554 So. 2d 1153, 1154 (Fla. 1989)).
The court had agreed with Bostick that a reasonable person confronted by police officers on a bus would not feel free to leave because, among other factors, the bus leaves no space to move away from the officers and, had Bostick in fact disembarked, he would have been stranded at the terminal and lost whatever luggage was stored on the bus. Id. at 435.
The United States Supreme Court disagreed with our determination that such encounters result in a per se seizure, explaining that "where the encounter takes place is one factor, but it is not the only one." Id. at 437. the case was then remanded to this Court for a determination of whether Bostick had been seized under the "totality of the circumstances" standard. Id.