Warrantless use of automatic license plate readers (ALPR) does not violate the Fourth Amendment.
While police were investigating the Defendant on suspicion of drug distribution they used ALPRs on two bridges to track the Defendant’s movements. The police accessed historical data via ALPR technology and received real-time alerts, the last of which led to the Defendant’s arrest. The defendant filed motions to suppress the ALPR data and the fruits of the arrest. The superior court denied the motions. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that while the widespread use of ALPRs in the Commonwealth could implicate a defendant’s constitutional protected expectation of privacy in the whole of his public movements, that interest was not invaded by the limited extent and use of the ALPR data in the instant case.
Note: Yet another case where a Mosaic argument is made regarding the use of ALPRs. We’ll keep an eye on this!
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