The police stopped a woman and her friend for failing to wear seat belts. After stopping her, the police officer questioned the driver about where she was going. She provided answers that did not make sense and acted nervously. Her passenger told the officer that she was trying to avoid the police. The police officer recognized the driver and knew she was on a list of people who were only allowed to purchase limited amounts of ephedrine because of past criminal history involving methamphetamine use. He questioned her about her recent purchases of ephedrine. He then asked for consent to search her vehicle and belongings. The driver actually consented to him searching. He then found methamphetamine in her purse. According to the Indiana Court of Appeals police conducted an illegal search of the woman’s purse after stopping her and her friend for failing to wear seat belts.
The Appellate Court held that the officer was not allowed to search her purse based upon these facts and suppressed the evidence. When the Indiana Legislature passed the law mandating people wear seat belts the law specifically stated that it did not provide reasonable suspicion for police to expand their investigation. What constitutes an illegal search and seizure depends on the particular facts of your situation and current Indiana and federal law, which is constantly evolving.