Iowa high court ruling limits warrantless vehicle searches

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa Supreme Court ruling could curb the ability of state police agencies to seize cash and property from motorists.

The Des Moines Register reports that Friday's 5-2 decision from the Iowa Supreme Court will limit the ability of state patrol troopers and deputies to conduct warrantless vehicle searches.

The ruling came in the case of Robert Pardee, who's fighting to get back $33,100 that a trooper seized after stopping a vehicle he was riding in and finding a small amount of marijuana during a search. The trooper based the search partly on his observation that the car had a "lived-in" look that could indicate cross-country drug trafficking.

But Justice Edward Mansfield wrote for the majority that the observation was "unremarkable" and not evidence of criminal activity.