State v. Stroud

In State v. Stroud, 106 Wn.2d 144, 720 P.2d 436 (1986), a majority (eight members of the court signing the lead and concurring opinions) held, as stated, that a search of the passenger compartment incident to arrest of the driver is permissible without a warrant under article I, section 7. The lead and concurring opinions disagreed, however, as to whether privacy interests should be considered. The lead opinion reasoned that the dangers to the officer and possible destruction of evidence must be weighed against whatever privacy interests the person arrested has in the articles in the vehicle. Stroud, 106 Wn.2d at 151-52 (Goodloe, J.). The lead opinion concluded that this weighing would not be done on a case by case basis, however, because it would be too difficult a rule for effective law enforcement and protection of individual rights. Accordingly, the lead opinion adopted a bright-line rule allowing a search of the passenger compartment incident to arrest. The lead opinion added, however, that locked containers or glove compartments could not be opened and searched because the fact such articles are locked demonstrates that an individual reasonably expects the contents to remain private, and because the danger that an individual could hide or destroy evidence within the container or grab a weapon from it is minimized. 106 Wn.2d at 152. The Court held that "during the arrest process, including the time immediately subsequent to the suspect's being arrested, handcuffed, and placed in a patrol car, officers should be allowed to search the passenger compartment of a vehicle for weapons or destructible evidence." Stroud, 106 Wn.2d at 152.