Can the police obtain access to and remove my keys from my vehicle without a search warrant?

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Can the police obtain access to and remove my keys from my vehicle without a search warrant?

I was at school and when I went to my vehicle to leave (parked illegally in the visiting row) my keys were gone and a business card was affixed to my steering wheel. When I picked it up, it had a note written on it that said, “Zachary, I have your car keys. You left them in the ignition. Contact me at (phone number omitted)”. In my state this as against the law but is it legal for an officer to enter my vehicle and confiscate my keys without my permission or presence?

Asked on January 11, 2012 under General Practice, Ohio

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

From what you have written about the facts concerning the taking of your car keys, what the police officer did was legal under the laws of your and many states. It is illegal in many states to leave keys in a vehicle's ignition when the car is unattended.

The police officer obviously saw the keys in the ignition in your car while it was unattended by anyone, entered it and took the keys to secure it and prevent anyone from taking it. There was no need for the issuance of a search warrant because there was the possibility of an imminent danger to society that some person not authorized to take your vehicle would do so.


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