The United States Supreme Court ruled that a vehicle driver does not give up his or her privacy rights when driving an unauthorized rental car. In the unanimous opinion published in May 2018, the Court found that a driver does not waive his expectation of privacy just because his name is not on the rental car agreement.
Details: Terrence Byrd was driving a rental car when he was pulled over by state troopers in Pennsylvania. The officer asked for the rental car agreement, which only listed Byrd's girlfriend on the contract. Byrd said that he had the consent of his girlfriend to have the vehicle and drive it, but the police believed they did not need consent or another reason to search the car because Byrd's name was not on the agreement. A search of the car revealed multiple bricks of heroin. Byrd was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The Supreme Court ruled that drivers do not automatically give up or deserve diminished 4th Amendment rights solely because their name is not on the rental car contract. This means that drivers in this position receive the same privacy rights as other drivers.
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