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No. 2—09—0833 Opinion iled March 31, 2011 - page 13 / 24





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No. 2—09—0833

search-incident-to-arrest exception that applies to the warrantless searchof a vehicle. Gant, 556 U.S.

at ___, 129 S. Ct. at 1716. The Court emphasized that there are two circumstances under which a

search of a vehicle incident to a lawful arrest is permissible. See Gant, 556 U.S. at ___, 129 S. Ct.

at 1719. Under the first circumstance, law enforcement may search “a vehicle incident to a recent

occupant's arrest only when the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger

compartment at the time of the search.” Gant, 556 U.S. at ___, 129 S. Ct. at 1719. The second

circumstance justifying the search of a vehicle incident to an arrest occurs “when it is ‘reasonable to

believe evidence relevant to the crime of arrest might be found in the vehicle.’ ” Gant, 556 U.S. at


, 129 S. Ct. at 1719 (quoting Thornton v. United States, 541 U.S. 615, 632 (2004)).

Upon concluding that the search of Mason’s vehicle did not match either of the acceptable

circumstances described in Gant, the Appellate Court, Third District, held that Gant “did not

expressly overrule those cases in which courts have sanctioned inventory searches pursuant to the

proper impoundment of a vehicle.” Mason, 403 Ill. App. 3d at 1055. The appellate court further

held that the impoundment and ensuing inventory search were proper. The court emphasized the

officer’s testimony that, when a driver has a suspended or revoked license and there is no insurance

for the vehicle, a tow is mandated. Although the officer was uncertain about the basis for the

mandate, his decision to tow was based on a standardized procedure that was itself based on the

cognizable reason that an uninsured vehicle operated by a driver with a revoked or suspended license

must be towed. The court deemed the procedure a legitimate exercise of law enforcement’s

caretaking function, because section 7—601 prohibits the operation on a public highway of a motor

vehicle that is not covered by a liability insurance policy. Mason, 403 Ill. App. 3d at 1055.

2. Duguay

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