While driving, you can expect a degree of privacy during traffic stops. Police cannot search your car without probable cause. This protection might soon have some new exceptions, however. A traffic stop for one Pennsylvania man in a rental car could potentially lead to fewer 4th Amendment rights on the road.
The Supreme Court has yet to rule in Byrd v. United States, a case that concerns rental agreements and privacy rights across the country. The driver, Byrd, was pulled over for a minor violation in his fiancée’s rental car. His fiancée granted him permission to use the vehicle, which later became a key factor in this case. At the time of the traffic stop, the patrol officer conducted a search of the vehicle because the rental agreement made no mention of his name. Although the officer found contraband in the trunk, the judges must ask whether the search was constitutional at all.