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automobile exception n: an exception to the prohibition on warrantless searches that allows a police officer to search an automobile without a search warrant in cases where the officer has probable cause to believe that the automobile contains evidence of a crime and that the evidence would be disposed of if the officer were to leave to obtain a warrant
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.