Inventory searches (when it comes to vehicle searches) are an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement for searching a vehicle. There are three main purposes for conducting an inventory search. First, it is to protect the owner’s property while it is in police custody, second it is to protect officers from potentially dangerous items or weapons in or on the property, and third it is to protect officers from claims against lost, stolen, or broken property. Evidence found in a lawfully conducted inventory search can also be used aga  leaving an accident against the defendant in a future trial. Inventory searches do not require probable cause because inventory searches are non-criminal procedures. This means that a search warrant is not necessary.

An inventory search (when it comes to vehicle searches) cannot be used as a ruse to help police find incriminating evidence, and if officers act in bad faith or use it for the sole purpose of conducting an investigation, then the search will be unlawful and therefor invalid.  Miranda Rights There are two requirements that must be met in order for an officer to conduct a proper inventory search. First, the vehicle being searched must have been lawfully impounded. The second requirement is that the police are following the standardized inventory policy directed at achieving the justifications for inventory searches. Standardized inventory policies change from one department to the other, however they all must be constructed to accomplish the goals of inventory searches in good faith. The area in which officers are allowed to search do not extend any further than what is reasonably necessary to discover valuables or other items that would need to be kept safe. That gives police the right to search in areas such as trunks, consoles, and other compartments, but not areas such as heating vents or other areas that are not practical to contain valuables.