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Applying Gant, D.C.’s Court of Appeals Affirms a Drug Search

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On January 21, 2010, D.C.’s highest court considered the application of Gant to a car search. In affirming the search and conviction, the court stated:

“Here, appellant was arrested for possession of marijuana — for which the police had probable cause — after seeing him drop a blunt on the ground. The police had noticed that the blunt was unevenly rolled, which suggested that appellant had manipulated the cigar to smoke marijuana. We do not think that Chimel provides a basis to search the car incident to arrest because the car was locked (and appellant handcuffed) when he was arrested, and therefore did not pose a risk to the safety of the officers or the integrity of any evidence. But Thornton does furnish that basis, because having observed appellant lean into the car and close the door shortly before he was seen with a marijuana blunt, the officers reasonably could have believed that appellant had additional marijuana or drug paraphernalia in the car such that it was “reasonable to believe evidence relevant to the  crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle.” Gant, 129 S.Ct. at 1719.”

Dawkins v. U.S. , ___ A.2d ___ (D.C., Jan. 21, 2010).