• 498
Alamy

Is your vehicle private property? The answer seems obvious: of course it is. But depending on where you parked it, you might give up some rights in actually keeping it "private." Police can place a tracking device on your car without a warrant, according to recent judgment in California.

Earlier this year, an Oregonian named Juan Pineda-Moreno was convicted of growing marijuana after police tracked his car to a suspected growing site. Pineda-Moreno appealed, citing the fact that on two occasions DEA agents placed tracking devices on his car while it was in his driveway -- which he considered private, not public, property -- and therefore breached his Fourth Amendment rights.

In case you don't have your Bill of Rights handy, here's the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pineda-Moreno didn't have any signage or barriers around his property to clearly indicate that it was private property, and since "an individual going up to the house to deliver the newspaper or to visit someone would have to go through the driveway to get to the house," why couldn't the DEA? Further, the court ruled that the underside of his car isn't private because "[t]he undercarriage is part of the car's exterior, and as such, is not afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy."

Of course there are all kinds of legal chicanery involved, so read the decision (it's short) if you really want to know how it went down (for instance, DEA agents attached GPS devices on seven occasion, five of those in public places, not Pineda-Moreno's driveway) and then decide for yourself whether Orwell has lifted a finger from the grave or not.

How It All Went Down

Pineda-Moreno tipped law enforcement off in 2007 when he was seen buying a large amount of fertilizer from Home Depot. The fertilizer, one typically used to grow marijuana, was purchased in conjunction with groceries, irrigation supplies and deer repellant and placed in the back of his 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The Drug Enforcement Agency decided to study Pineda-Moreno more closely, placing GPS tracking devices on his vehicle. The devices, about the size of a bar of soap, were placed on the underside of his vehicle on seven different occasions -- four times while parked on the street outside of his residence, once in a public parking lot and twice while parked in his driveway. Reports indicate that police placed the devices on his vehicle between 4:00 and 5:00 AM in the mornings.

While tracking his vehicle, officials recognized Pineda-Moreno's car was leaving a commonly known marijuana growing location. They located his Jeep, pulled him over and noted the smell of marijuana coming from his car. All three people in the car were placed under arrest and when officials searched Pineda-Moreno's trailer, they found two large garbage bags full of weed.

What's undisputed is that Pineda-Moreno was in possession of marijuana. But should the manner in which police tracked him get called into question? While Pineda-Moreno lost this recent appeal, expect him to take it to a higher court (the U.S. Supreme Court) in the coming year.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 498 Comments
      Smoothoperator
      • 1 Month Ago
      LOL!!!! KGB changed name to democrat party after soviet union collapsed!!!!LOL!!! and your just noticing now????
      • 1 Month Ago
      http://www.bing.com/shopping/search?q=GPS+tracking+jammers&FORM=HURE
      arklight99
      • 1 Month Ago
      Unless you have the Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (original title), the car/truck/van/suv is not, in fact, yours. Look at your paperwork: you'll see that you have a 'Certificate of Title', meaning that a title exists, but you don't have it. Your car actually is the property of some third party whom you don't know and will never see, like the land your house sits on, and your kid (Certificate of Live Birth is NOT a birth certificate - - do your own research), so your kid is a chattel, and property of the State. Since Moreno does not, in fact, own either the real property nor the Jeep, he won't get much joy from the Supremes, either. The Ninth Circuit just set out a bunch of window dressing verbiage to disguise the fact that Moreno has no rights either in his house or in his car. You can thank Harry Truman and the US Senate of the time for chaining us to the UN, including Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21 (you can download both from the un website, and read 'em for yourselves). Have a nice day.
      • 1 Month Ago
      This is wrong, warrant less wire trap. WRONG
      rwdawson
      • 1 Month Ago
      To ljb199744: How about if the police are allowed to come search your hour house once a month or so, or read your mail or listen in on your phone conversations when ever they want? After all if you have nothing to hide what's the big deal?
      ae12wrangell
      • 1 Month Ago
      Does that mean any police deparetment can sieze my vehicle for any reason, even for fun at thier own expense?
      • 1 Month Ago
      Anybody dumb enough to grow reefer in a common place, use there own vehicle to regularly visit, etc...Should be caught. They are not very good criminals. You need to be aware of these things, be one step ahead of these ********. Just realize they can do whatever they want to catch you and be creative. Because cops are not. Many are stupid wife beaters, thieves, liars etc. I'm 40 and have never needed a cop for anything I couldn't take care of myself. So, don't say, "they are there when you need them". They can break down your door whenever they want and just lie...an officer heard screaming inside, whatever. When they do that, put two in the head and that ahole will be done. You will get use to jail
      • 1 Month Ago
      police have no right to put their grubby dirty hands on our cars without a warrant.... i dont want anyone touching my car...much less the government
      • 1 Month Ago
      this article is extremely disappointing... just the fact that the Police department put so many man hours and directed all of their concentration on--an obviously Latino-American--man who grew pot.. which, as it happens has less violent/personality/decision altering effects on the average man over alcohol... yet alcohol is perfectly legal. we should really take a step back and reevaluate our priorities in America. focus less on pot and more on drunk drivers or meth adicts. pot dealers are NOT our biggest issue. when are they going to get it in their heads PROHIBITION DOESNT WORK sup @ 1920-1933! if the kids are united, they will never be divided.
      • 1 Month Ago
      If no one is doing anything wrong, you obviously won't need a tracker put on your car. (There would be no use for one if they did, anyway.)
      • 1 Month Ago
      Perhaps the day i deside to carry 3 pounds of MJ i will attach it to the undercarrige of the car, i will be in the clear if cops stop me because its not my private part of the car, so it must be public and anyone could have put it there.....im i right???? or right?????
      • 1 Month Ago
      the police are more aggressive to regular citizens when they need to clean up their own backyards too. This means their spouses too. I and several others know for a fact the police officer's wife accross the street from me makes reg trips to a drug dealers home to purchase her private supply. Not only does she do this, I have been behind her in traffic when she is driving in access of 80MPH on a 55MPH roadway with a 6 month baby in the car with her. (she works in same area I do, so am in traffic with her frequently as we both get off work at same time of day)
    • Load More Comments