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Voluntary Consent to Search Car: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v Lopez

On the afternoon of July 13, 1989, Lopez was driving a Ryder rental truck towing a Volkswagen automobile on Interstate 90 in Erie County. His wife, Yvonne, and his four year old child were passengers. Corporal Robert Martin of the Pennsylvania State Police noticed the tow chains between the Ryder truck and the Volkswagen were not crossed as required by § 4905(d) of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, and signaled Lopez to pull over.

After the stop, upon request, Lopez produced his driver’s license, vehicle registration and the rental agreement for the truck, which revealed that the truck had been rented in Carlsbad, New Mexico with a destination of Glen Falls, New York. Upon concluding that the papers were in order, Corporal Martin did not return them to Lopez but, instead asked Lopez to exit the vehicle and walk to its rear.

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