We are all accustomed to police searches. However, a physical permanent home does require a police warrant to search. On the other hand RV laws do not require a police warrant to be searched. Learn more about private property laws and travel trailers.
So, do police need a warrant to search your travel trailer? No. RV is an automobile just like a car that does not require a police warrant to be searched. It can be legally searched anytime and anywhere by the police with no warrant based on the property laws.
It is because RV life entails using an RV that often on the move. Thus, securing a warrant in courts could be time consuming and the owner would be in the next destination. So, RV fall in the lists of search warrant exceptions laws.
In this guide, be prepared to learn more about
1)Rule of Law and RV
- Historical cases that resulted in searches without warrants
- Is an RV protected by the 4th amendment?
- Can police search my travel trailer?
2) Living in an RV
- Is an RV considered a dwelling?
- Can you permanently live in an RV?
1)Rule of Law and RV
Historical Cases that Resulted in Searches Without Warrants
In the case of California v. Carney in 1985, the court allowed all motorhomes to be searched without a warrant after it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that some RVers can engage in illegal misconduct in their travel trailers.
The case transpired after suspicious onlookers noticed that one motorhome was being used for sexual exploitation in exchange of illicit drugs. Police did a search with no warrant to confirm the suspicions.
The court ruled in favor of the police that they had no mistake to search the motorhome since it’s an automobile and the perpetrators were penalized.
Warrant exceptions exists for all automobiles including cars and motorhomes such as RVs. You can be searched by police with no warrant anytime.
Is an RV Protected by the 4th Amendment?
Yes. RV are protected by the fourth amendment. The fourth amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. However, since an RV is an automobile it also falls under exception just like cars and can be searched even without a warrant.
Police can legally search your RV and even infringe your privacy with reasonable justification such as evidence of the vehicle carrying a contraband, or a malicious activity detected inside the RV. A search of the vehicle, packages, and all the compartments can be done.
The RVs were exempted from search warrant before being searched because since it’s a moving vehicle, the owner and the RV may disappear even before the police secures a search warrant. Also, privacy expectations in RVs is much lower than in homes.
Learn more about paying taxes for RVs.
Can Police Search my Travel Trailer?
Yes. Police can search your travel trailer for several reasons. The search could be a security measure or just out of suspicion of your behavior in front of them. Besides, someone else could be suspicious and report you to the police and you will be searched.
When police stop you, just relax and stop. Open your window and be engaged. Say, if they need your license show them. The police could also do a general inspection for your own safety. Trying to play tricks such as over speeding could raise more suspicion and you are likely to be arrested.
Also, if the police notice you are trying to conceal something perhaps underneath your seat then you will be searched. The interiors of your RV can also be searched if any possible cause of suspicion arises.
As an RV newbie or pro, since you are engaging in RV living be open minded and know that the police can search you anytime with no warrant. It is legally allowed in the USA for automobiles such as an RV to be searched with no warrant.
Watch this video and see how this guy got searched on the highway, no warranty given.
2) Living in an RV
Is an RV Considered a Dwelling?
Yes. An RV is considered a temporary dwelling despite having almost similar facility as a home. In fact, the permanent housing regulations are not applicable to RVs despite being a temporary dwelling since it’s also an automobile.
Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) with the help of the law clarified about the RV definition of being a “dwelling” and its real world functioning.
It is worth noting that unlike manufactured housing transactions, travel trailers are more of vehicle transactions. Thus, RV insurance and tax practices significantly differ from real estate insurance and tax practices.
As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also defines an RV as a temporary dwelling. It acknowledges that RVs are more than just travel trailers since a temporary residential accommodations can be offered.
The Housing and Urban Development (HUB) of the U.S. acknowledges an RV as a temporary dwelling for recreational, travel, seasonal or camping usage. Consequently, RVs have not been included in the residential building codes.
RVs are also considered as discretional purchase for people desiring to have fun on the move and not seeking an alternative housing unit.
Besides, the loans provided for RVs have a significant differences from those of home loans transactions. In addition, distribution of RVs follows vehicles laws and not housing laws.
Can you permanently live in an RV?
Yes. An RV is defined as a temporary home for travel, recreational, seasonal, or camping use but there is no law prohibiting you from making your motorhome a permanent residency. So, it’s your discretion to either make it a permanent home where you engage in RV full-time living or a temporary home.
If you consider making your RV a permanent home you could benefit from some of this facts. You don’t have a permanent address since you are always on the road and live wherever you desire. The RV home is much cheaper than living in a house since day to day costs, expenses, and upkeep costs are less.
RV home is much smaller and cleaning is fast. You will also have little chores to do. Since you are moving with your entire home, you enjoy life to the fullest irrespective of where you are. Your dreams also come true as you traverse the world.
Parking fees tend to be cheaper at campsites. Besides, you meet new people and cultures. Also, energy costs are lower since you are likely to buy bulk fuel instead of doing small refills that can be costly.
However, a number of disadvantages are likely to be realized in such a home. Since you do not have a permanent residence, sorting bills, orders, posts, and transactions among other important activities becomes a challenge.
It’s difficult to maintain your budget since you are always moving from one place to another. The risk of overspending is high. You lack space to even buy extra luxury you love during your travel.
Winter cold can be harsh for you since you can’t do an open fire and no wall cavity insulation exists in the motorhome. When you are not on the move parking can be challenging since some places you are not supposed to park and being new in the region you are likely to be on the wrong side of the law.
Unless you buy a plot then park your RV and permanently live there you will be safe from parking scandal with police.