UPDATE (2019-10-21) Georgia Supreme Court overturns Georgia Court of Appeals** Mobley v. State, S18G1546
The Georgia Supreme Court has overruled data from the airbag control module that showed Mobley’s Dodge Charger was traveling at nearly 100 MPH prior to the accident in which his vehicle collided with another vehicle, killing both occupants . The Supreme Court ruled that the officer’s gratuitous search of the data in the module was a 4th Amendment search and that there was no valid exception to allow the admissibility of the data after the gratuitous search. The court ruled that the data was not admissible under the inevitable discovery doctrine because the state could not show that officers were actively pursuing a warrant at the time of the search. The officers merely searched the data in the module without a search warrant and later applied for a search warrant. The Supreme Court ruled that the state’s subsequent request for a warrant would violate the warrant’s requirements. The trial court should have suppressed the evidence from the airbag control module in the pretrial motion for suppression.
Many newer vehicles have an airbag control module (ACM) that records certain facts about the vehicle before and during an accident. On June 27, 2018, the Georgia Court of Appeals heard a case in which the driver ruled the trial court with a motion to suppress the introduction of evidence that he was traveling at 97 MPH approximately 5 seconds before an accident involving two people died, had moved in separate vehicle.
Officials in this case testified that the ACM made certain records Aspects of the vehicle at or just prior to airbag deployment, including speed, engine RPM, brake status, throttle position, engine RPM, driver seatbelt status and brake switch status, as well as time from maximum deceleration to impact, time from vehicle impact to airbag deployment, and diagnostic information about the vehicle’s systems.
The evidence had been obtained by the state before granting a search warrant request to retrieve the data from ACM. The search warrant was issued the day after the evidence had already been retrieved by the ACM, and the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court erred in denying the defendant’s request for suppression as there was a probable cause, the data to be retrieved from the ACM ACM and that the data would inevitably have been discovered.
It is important to remember that your car or truck may be recording what is happening inside your vehicle and this could be used against you in a criminal proceeding.
This was a case of first impression for the Court of Appeal. You can read the whole case here Mobley v United States State, 816 SE2d 769 (2018)