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Name: People v. McKay
Case #: S091421
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Citation: 27 Cal.4th 601
Summary

Appellant McKay was arrested for an infraction of riding his bicycle in the wrong direction on a residential street; a violation of Vehicle Code section 21650.1, punishable by a fine not to exceed $100. The deputy intended to issue only a citation, but since appellant did not have his “driver’s license or other satisfactory evidence of his identity” on him, he arrested appellant pursuant to Vehicle Code section 40302, subdivision (a). During a search incident to the arrest, a baggie of methamphetamine was found in appellant’s sock. The name and date of birth appellant gave the officer meanwhile cleared through a records check. Appellant contended that a custodial arrest for a fine-only offense violated the 4th Amendment against unreasonable seizures and/or that the deputy failed to comply with the state statute that governs the arrest procedure for such an infraction under section 40302, subdivision (a). The Cal. Supreme Court held here that in accordance with recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent, custodial arrests for fine-only offenses do not violate the 4th Amendment. (Atwater v. City of Lago Vista (2001) 532 U.S. 318 [which upheld a custodial arrest for a violation of Texas’s seatbelt law, an offense punishable by a fine of $25 to $50].) Under Atwater, all that is needed to justify a custodial arrest is a showing of probable cause. (Id. at p. 354.) Appellant further asserted that California law seeks to limit this broad discretion by statute in that his oral statement to the deputy constituted “satisfactory evidence of [his] identity” under section 40302(a). The Court found that compliance with state arrest procedures is not a component of the federal constitutional inquiry, and in any case, the arrest here did comply with section 40302, subdivision (a). (6-1) [Editor’s note: J. Brown’s concurring and dissenting opinion is well worth a thorough reading. For example, in her opening paragraph she cautions that as we concede to authorities a greater domain of the privilege of warrantless searches and seizures: “. . . for every inch given, a mile will be taken.”]

Opinion Date: 03/04/2002