49 U.S. Code § 32707 - Administrative warrants

(a) Definition.— In this section, “probable cause” means a valid public interest in the effective enforcement of this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter sufficient to justify the inspection or impoundment in the circumstances stated in an application for a warrant under this section.
(b) Warrant Requirement and Issuance.—
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, an inspection or impoundment under section 32706 of this title may be carried out only after a warrant is obtained.
(2) A judge of a court of the United States or a State court of record or a United States magistrate may issue a warrant for an inspection or impoundment under section 32706 of this title within the territorial jurisdiction of the court or magistrate. The warrant must be based on an affidavit that—
(A) establishes probable cause to issue the warrant; and
(B) is sworn to before the judge or magistrate by an officer or employee who knows the facts alleged in the affidavit.
(3) The judge or magistrate shall issue the warrant when the judge or magistrate decides there is a reasonable basis for believing that probable cause exists to issue the warrant. The warrant must—
(A) identify the premises, property, or motor vehicle to be inspected and the items or type of property to be impounded;
(B) state the purpose of the inspection, the basis for issuing the warrant, and the name of the affiant;
(C) direct an individual authorized under section 32706 of this title to inspect the premises, property, or vehicle for the purpose stated in the warrant and, when appropriate, to impound the property specified in the warrant;
(D) direct that the warrant be served during the hours specified in the warrant; and
(E) name the judge or magistrate with whom proof of service is to be filed.
(4) A warrant under this section is not required when—
(A) the owner, operator, or agent in charge of the premises consents;
(B) it is reasonable to believe that the mobility of the motor vehicle to be inspected makes it impractical to obtain a warrant;
(C) an application for a warrant cannot be made because of an emergency;
(D) records are to be inspected and copied under section 32706 (e)(1)(A) of this title; or
(E) a warrant is not constitutionally required.
(c) Service and Impoundment of Property.—
(1) A warrant issued under this section must be served and proof of service filed not later than 10 days after its issuance date. The judge or magistrate may allow additional time in the warrant if the Secretary of Transportation demonstrates a need for additional time. Proof of service must be filed promptly with a written inventory of the property impounded under the warrant. The inventory shall be made in the presence of the individual serving the warrant and the individual from whose possession or premises the property was impounded, or if that individual is not present, a credible individual except the individual making the inventory. The individual serving the warrant shall verify the inventory. On request, the judge or magistrate shall send a copy of the inventory to the individual from whose possession or premises the property was impounded and to the applicant for the warrant.
(2) When property is impounded under a warrant, the individual serving the warrant shall—
(A) give the person from whose possession or premises the property was impounded a copy of the warrant and a receipt for the property; or
(B) leave the copy and receipt at the place from which the property was impounded.
(3) The judge or magistrate shall file the warrant, proof of service, and all documents filed about the warrant with the clerk of the United States district court for the judicial district in which the inspection is made.

Source

(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e),July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1053.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised Section Source (U.S. Code) Source (Statutes at Large)
32707(a)
15:1990e(b)(1) (last sentence).
Oct. 20, 1972, Pub. L. 92–513, 86 Stat. 947, § 415; added July 14, 1976, Pub. L. 94–364, § 408(2), 90 Stat. 987.
32707(b)(1)
15:1990e(a) (words before 1st comma).
32707(b)(2)
15:1990e(b)(1) (1st sentence), (2) (1st sentence).
32707(b)(3)
15:1990e(b)(2) (2d, last sentences).
32707(b)(4)
15:1990e(a) (words after 1st comma).
32707(c)(1)
15:1990e(b)(3) (1st, 3d–last sentences).
32707(c)(2)
15:1990e(b)(3) (2d sentence).
32707(c)(3)
15:1990e(b)(4).

In subsection (a), the words “inspection or impoundment” are substituted for “administrative inspections of the area, factory, warehouse, establishment, premises, or motor vehicle, or contents thereof” to eliminate unnecessary words and for consistency in this section.
In subsection (b)(1), the words “Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection” are added for clarity. The words “an inspection or impoundment” are substituted for “any entry or administrative inspection (including impoundment of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment)” to eliminate unnecessary words.
In subsection (b)(2), before clause (A), the words “inspection or impoundment” are substituted for “the purpose of conducting administrative inspections authorized by section 1990d of this title and impoundment of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment appropriate to such inspections” for consistency in this section. The words “of the court or magistrate” are substituted for “his” for clarity. The words “and upon proper oath or affirmation” are omitted as surplus because of clause (B). Clause (A) is substituted for “showing probable cause” and “and establishing the grounds for issuing the warrant” to eliminate unnecessary words.
In subsection (b)(3), before clause (A), the words “when the judge or magistrate decides there is a reasonable basis for believing that probable cause exists to issue the warrant” are substituted for “If the judge or magistrate is satisfied that grounds for the application exist or that there is a reasonable basis for believing they exist” for consistency in this section and to eliminate unnecessary words. In clauses (A) and (C), the words “area, factory, warehouse, establishment” are omitted as being included in “premises”. In clause (A), the word “property” is substituted for “and, where appropriate, the type of property to be inspected, if any” to eliminate unnecessary words. In clause (B), the words “the name of the affiant” are substituted for “the name of the person or persons whose affidavit has been taken in support thereof” to eliminate unnecessary words. In clause (C), the words “command the person to whom it is directed” are omitted as surplus. The word “property” is added for consistency with the source provisions restated in clause (A) of this paragraph. In clause (E), the words “proof of service is to be filed” are substituted for “it shall be returned” for clarity.
In subsection (b)(4)(A), the words “factory, warehouse, establishment” are omitted as being included in “premises”.
Subsection (b)(4)(C) is substituted for 15:1990e(a)(3) to eliminate unnecessary words.
In subsection (b)(4)(D), the words “are to be inspected and copied” are substituted for “for access to and examination” for consistency.
In subsection (b)(4)(E), the words “in any other situations where” are omitted as surplus.
In subsection (c)(2)(A), the words “from whose possession or” are substituted for “from whom or from whose” for clarity.
In subsection (c)(3), the words “shall file the warrant, proof of service, and all documents filed about the warrant” are substituted for “shall attach to the warrant a copy of the return and all papers filed in connection therewith and shall file them” to eliminate unnecessary words. The words “United States district court” are substituted for “district court of the United States” for consistency with the definition in section 32101 of the revised title and with other provisions of the chapter.
Change of Name

Reference to United States magistrate or to magistrate deemed to refer to United States magistrate judge pursuant to section 321 ofPub. L. 101–650, set out as a note under section 631 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.

 

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