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Colorado v. Bertine

United States Supreme Court
479 U.S. 367 (1987)



Steven Lee Bertine (defendant) was arrested for driving under the influence. In accordance with standard local police procedures, a police officer conducted an inventory search of Bertine's van after Bertine was arrested but before a tow truck arrived to take the van to the impound lot. As part of the search of the van, the officer opened a closed backpack that he found behind the van's front seat. The backpack contained a nylon bag with closed metal canisters. Upon opening the canisters, the officer found methaqualone tablets, cocaine, cocaine paraphernalia, and cash. Bertine was charged with driving under the influence; unlawful possession of cocaine with the intent to dispense, sell, and distribute; and unlawful possession of methaqualone. Bertine moved to suppress the evidence found during the inventory search, claiming that the search of the closed backpack and canisters went beyond the scope of a permissible search under the Fourth Amendment. The trial court held that the search did not violate Bertine's Fourth Amendment rights but granted Bertine's motion to suppress on the grounds that the inventory search violated the state constitution. The state supreme court affirmed the trial court's grant of the motion to suppress. However, the state supreme court based its decision on the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Concurrence (Blackmun, J.)

Dissent (Marshall, J.)

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