A motor vehicle stop enacted without the proper level of suspicion violates the United States Constitution, and the Pennsylvania Constitution. Vehicle searches and stops in criminal cases may trigger violations of an accused's rights under the US constitution. Vehicle searches and stops generally reuire that the police possess probable cause. Generally, in order to effectuate a motor vehicle stop a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a violation of Title 75 is or has occurred. 75 Pa.C.S. § 6308(b). Suppression motions However, where an officer merely has reasonable suspicion that a violation of the motor vehicle code has occurred, and more cannot be gained by investigation during a seizure, then it cannot be a valid stop. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a case named Chase explained that before a police officer may stop a single vehicle to determine whether or not the vehicle is being operated in compliance with the Motor Vehicle Code, he must have probable cause based on specific facts which indicate to him either the vehicle or the driver are in violation of the vehicle code.
One of the most frequent questions that comes up with criminal cases and vehicle stops involving the police is: When can the police search my vehicle? Before answering this question, let's look at what an individual's privacy rights are in Pennsylvania when it comes to a vehicle.