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Corey v. State – DUI Arrest – Open Garage is Curtilage

In Corey v. State, A12A2365, March 13, 2013, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the search of the DUI Defendant’s Cobb County home or its curtilage was presumptively unreasonable absent exigent circumstances or consent even in the presence of probable cause and reversed the Marietta Trial Court in this Cobb County DUI arrest. Physical entry into the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.  As the garage, in this case, is physically connected to the house and is under the same roof as the house it is part of the house for purposes of the 4th Amendment. A garage or basement door left open to admit light and air does not constitute a blanket invitation for the police to enter.  In addition to the home itself, the 4th Amendment protects the curtilage of a home which includes the yards, grounds of a particular address, gardens, barns, and buildings.

Curtilage is measured by four factors the proximity to the home; whether the area is within an enclosure, the nature of the use of the area, and the steps taken by the property owner to protect the area from observation by passersby.  Areas in which the public or deliveryman customarily approach the home are generally not considered part of the curtilage.  In this case, the defendant was parked in her garage and entering the house when the police approached with the garage door open.  The Court held that the investigative detention under these circumstances violated the 4th Amendment without a warrant or consent.

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