Does Caretaking Function of Police Permit Them to Conduct a Warrantless Search of a Vehicle Belonging to a Person Arrested for Selling Heroin ?
In Commonwealth v. Collazo, 440 Pa. Super. 13, 654 A.2d 1174, 1177 (Pa.Super. 1995), a man sold heroin in a park with his car parked nearby and the police, after arresting him, impounded his vehicle. See id. While the appellant in Collazo did return to his car, apparently for heroin, it is important to note that, when police arrested the appellant, he was some distance from his vehicle, as was the appellant before us. See 654 A.2d at 1175.
Moreover, the Court did not rely on the car's involvement in the crime in holding that section 3352 provided the police with the authority to impound the vehicle. See id. at 1177.
The Court instead relied on the caretaking duties of the police: "the vehicle had been seized by police [pursuant to section 3352] after appellant's arrest for selling heroin to the informant. . . . the search, therefore, was within the caretaking function of the police, and, as such, was properly conducted without a warrant." Id.