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.