Herbie Fully Downloaded Data-Driven Vehicles and the Automobile Exception
Citation: 106 Geo L.J. (2017)
The Fourth Amendment’s automobile exception generally allows vehicles to be searched without a warrant. This lessened degree of protection is based partially on the need to afford law enforcement officials discretion when a suspect, evidence, or contraband is found in an automobile. It is also based on the diminished expectation of privacy in vehicles, due to their pervasive regulation and use of the public roadways. Although an autonomous vehicle would seem to undermine the mobility rationale for the automobile exception, it is the information such vehicles collect about their drivers that merits a departure from established Fourth Amendment doctrine to ensure that basic privacy protections remain in full force. This Note argues that although the mobility analysis of the automobile exception does not compel a new approach to Fourth Amendment analysis for autonomous vehicles, the information these vehicles collect represents such a significant privacy interest that law enforcement officials should be required to obtain a warrant before accessing vehicle data. This result is supported by the Supreme Court’s analysis in Riley v. California and United States v. Jones.