Federal judge rules against Tuscaloosa police in warrant-less search case

Tuscaloosa police vehicle search changes

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - A federal judge agreed with lawyers representing a man arrested by Tuscaloosa police who argued officers needed a warrant to search the vehicle.

The ruling involved a case where a man was stopped for a broken tail light and later arrested on an outstanding warrant. Police towed the car and later found a gun in it. That driver was a convicted felon who lost the right to possess a firearm.

His attorneys argued police had no right to search the car without a warrant. A judge agreed saying that practice by police was ambiguous and confusing and offered no meaningful guidance to police.

Tuscaloosa defense attorney Paul Patterson said the ruling protects people from illegal search and seizures.

“It’s a way to protect citizens from warrant-less searches that could end up in a charge being brought that is unrelated to what you were initially ticketed or arrested for,” Patterson said.

Attorneys for the city of Tuscaloosa are reviewing the order and will implement policy changes needed to comply with the ruling.

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