Court Allows Arrest of All in Drug Stops

The Supreme Court made it easier Monday for police to arrest all occupants of a car when hidden drugs are found during a traffic stop.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, writing for the unanimous court, said that in a small space like a car, "it was reasonable for the officer to infer a common enterprise" among a driver and passengers during a 1999 stop in Maryland.

Rehnquist said police had probable cause to suspect that passenger Joseph Jermaine Pringle knew that there was $763 in the glove compartment and five baggies of cocaine in an armrest in the backseat.

An appeals court had thrown out Pringle's drug conviction and 10-year prison sentence on grounds that his arrest violated the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches or seizures.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision.

I'd blogged about the oral arguments in the case last month here. The AP reports on today's opinion [PDF] here via FindLaw.