(1949), recognized that errors on the part of arresting officers will not invalidate an arrest if the errors are "those of reasonable men, acting on facts leading sensibly to their conclusion of probability." Id. at 176.
In reaching the probable cause determination, a police officer must draw upon his law enforcement experience and personal knowledge and rely upon his direct observations. See United States v. White, 208 U.S. App. D.C. 289, 648 F.2d 29 (D.C. Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 924, 70 L. Ed. 2d 233, 102 S. Ct. 424 (1981). Officer DeCarlo testified that, in his experience, inhaling paint lacquer is a common method of "getting high." Under the circumstances of this case, the officer was armed with sufficient facts to justly conclude that solvents had been improperly used in Veatch's vehicle and that the occupants were culpable. To this end, the officer acted as any reasonable and prudent law enforcement officer on the scene would have, given his experience and training, in arresting the occupants for illegal use of solvents. The arrest was therefore lawful.
C. The Automobile Exception to the Warrant Requirement: Warrantless Searches.
Under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement, the United States Supreme Court has adopted a common sense approach to determine whether probable cause justifies the warrantless search of a lawfully stopped vehicle. Nearly sixty years ago, the Supreme Court established that a warrantless search of a lawfully stopped vehicle, based on a reasonable or probable belief that the automobile has contraband, does not offend the Fourth Amendment. See Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 69 L. Ed. 543, 45 S. Ct. 280 (1925). More recently, that Court held that the scope of a warrantless search under the automobile exception "is no broader and no narrower than [the facts upon which] a magistrate could legitimately issue [a search warrant]. If probable cause justifies the search of a lawfully stopped vehicle, it justifies the search of every part of the vehicle and its contents that may conceal the object of the search." See United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798, 825, 72 L. Ed. 2d 572, 102 S. Ct. 2157 (1982). In its most recent pronouncement, the Court precisely defined the standard for probable cause determinations, noting that probable cause to conduct a warrantless search must be based on objective facts using "a practical, common sense decision whether, given all the circumstances . . ., there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place." See Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527 (1983).
Using this standard, this Court must decide whether the officers justifiably concluded, under the totality of the circumstances, that they would discover contraband in Veatch's automobile. Here, this Court holds that the officers had a substantial basis for concluding that there was probable cause to search the defendant's vehicle. The Court's conclusion is reached on three basis.
First, the automobile exception to the warrant requirement donned the officers with the legal authority to conduct a highway search of Veatch's vehicle, because the officers had probable cause to believe that the automobile contained solvents for illegal use. The circumstances surrounding the arrest gave rise to a fair probability that Veatch had solvents in his automobile: Veatch's car was erratically driven; the odor of paint lacquer emanated from within the car; the occupants appeared to be intoxicated; and the instrumentalities of solvent inhalation was in plain view in the passenger compartment. Under these circumstances, similar to United States v. Schecter, 717 F.2d 864, 869-70 (3d Cir 1983), this Court believes that the objective facts support the officers conclusion that they would find additional evidence of the illegal use of solvents throughout Veatch's vehicle.
Second, a warrantless roadside search of Veatch's vehicle was justified because the officers also had probable cause to believe that the automobile contained stolen goods. Officer DeCarlo testified that he was conducting an undercover investigation of a jitney stand when Louis Wisensee emerged from Veatch's car, entered the stand and, once inside, sold several fishing rods. The officer had independent knowledge that the jitney stand was involved in receiving stolen goods. When Wisensee exited the stand and recognized DeCarlo as a police officer, he fled the scene in Veatch's car. Standing alone, flight does not rise to the level of probable cause; but in light of the circumstances accompanying Wisensee's conduct, coupled with the officer's personal knowledge that the jitney stand was a fencing operation and his observation of an atypical sales transaction, Wisensee's flight warranted the officer's conclusion that he would find stolen goods in Veatch's trunk.
Finally, the automobile exception justifies the warrantless search of Veatch's vehicle because the officers had probable cause to believe that a weapon was hidden in the car. At the arrest scene, Veatch was frisked for weapons. When the frisk produced a 12- gauge shotgun shell from Veatch's front trouser pocket, Veatch blurted out: "I have a gun in the car!" The officers found a sawed-off shotgun in the trunk of Veatch's car. After an automobile is lawfully stopped, additional articulable facts may develop to support probable cause for a warrantless search. See United States v. Laird, 511 F.2d 1039, 1040 (9th Cir. 1975). Here, after the discovery of the shotgun shell, Veatch's statement that a gun was in the car, provided the additional and sufficiently articulable fact to support a probable cause belief that the car contained a concealed weapon. This is especially true in view of Veatch's earlier attempt to avoid apprehension. Cf. United States v. Burke, 506 F.2d 1165, 1171 (9th Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 421 U.S. 915, 43 L. Ed. 2d 781, 95 S. Ct. 1576 (1975).
For these reasons, the suppression motion of the defendant, Michael Veatch, is denied. An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, to wit this 22nd day of October, 1984, after a hearing in the above-captioned case, and in consideration of the defendant's Motion to Suppress, briefs and arguments in support thereof and in opposition thereto, and for the reasons stated in the accompanying Opinion, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED, that Michael Veatch's Motion to Suppress be and the same is hereby DENIED.