TRENTON - The state Supreme Court has reversed itself and put back into place an older standard for warrantless searches by police during car stops.
Police can now search a vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe there is contraband or evidence of a crime as long as the circumstances that led to the probable cause are unforeseeable and spontaneous.
The decision overturns a rule put in place six years ago that led to officers calling for warrants during many stops.
The decision comes in the case of William Witt, who was charged with weapons charges after police found a gun in his center console after pulling him over for not dimming his high beams.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman says the ruling achieves an appropriate balance between protecting constitutional rights and public safety.