Searching car computers

I’ve had several cases of serious and fatal car wrecks. In the process the investigators have “searched” the car’s onboard computer. There’s is quite a bit of information than can be retrieved to evaluate such things as speed, acceleration, and braking, that can aid in a prosecution. So, here is a new decision in JDSupra, from the Georgia Supreme Court, of interest.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the retrieval of electronic automobile data from an electronic data recording device (e.g., airbag control modules) without a warrant at the scene of a fatal collision was a search and seizure that implicates the Fourth Amendment, regardless of any reasonable expectations of privacy. (Mobley v. State, No. S18G1546 (Ga. Oct. 21, 2019)). The Court went on to hold that such retrieval of data was an unreasonable search and seizure forbidden by the Fourth Amendment, and that because the State failed to identify any recognized exception to the warrant requirement applicable to the facts, the trial court should have granted the motion to suppress.  As such, the judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming the conviction of the defendant for vehicular homicide was reversed.

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