State v. Johnson

In State v. Johnson, 128 Wn.2d 431, 909 P.2d 293 (1996), the Court was asked to decide whether a sleeper compartment in the cab of a tractor-trailer was part of the passenger compartment subject to search incident to the driver's arrest. The defendant in Johnson claimed that the sleeper was his temporary residence, and as such was not subject to search incident to arrest. The Court rejected this argument, noting that the sleeper compartment was not really a home. Id. at 448. The Court also observed that the defendant was asking this court to retreat from Stroud and "return to the confusion of Ringer." Id. The Court declined to do so. The Court noted that "vehicles traveling on public highways are subject to broad regulations not applicable to fixed residences," which do not afford the defendant the "same heightened privacy protection in the sleeper that he would have in a fixed residence or home." Id. at 449. Finally, the Court quoted with approval the reasoning of the Court of Appeals: "When a home is located in a vehicle, in such a way as to make it readily accessible from the passenger compartment, the safety of law enforcement officers and the need for a bright-line rule militate against prohibiting officers from searching a sleeping area which is readily accessible from the passenger compartment." Id. at 449.