Latasha Reed rented a car in New Jersey while petitioner Terrence Byrd waited outside the rental facility. Her signed agreement warned that permitting an unauthorized driver to drive the car would violate the agreement. Reed listed no additional drivers on the form, but she gave the keys to Byrd upon leaving the building. He stored personal belongings in the rental car’s trunk and then left alone for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After stopping Byrd for a traffic infraction, Pennsylvania State Troopers learned that the car was rented, that Byrd was not listed as an authorized driver, and that Byrd had prior drug and weapons convictions. Byrd also stated he had a marijuana cigarette in the car. The troopers proceeded to search the car, discovering body armor and 49 bricks of heroin in the trunk.
Whether a driver in lawful possession or control of a rental car who is not listed on the rental agreement has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car under the Fourth Amendment.
Byrd had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the rental car under the Fourth Amendment, and the evidence discovered during the search of the car could be challenged.
The legitimate expectation of privacy must have a source outside of the Fourth Amendment, either by reference to concepts of real or personal property law or to understandings recognized and permitted by society. A person’s expectation of privacy may be based on their lawful possession, control, or ownership of the property. The mere fact that a driver in lawful possession or control of a rental car is not listed on the rental agreement will not defeat their otherwise reasonable expectation of privacy.
200 L. Ed. 2d 805, 138 S. Ct. 1518 (2018)