State v. Carter, 200 N.C. App. 47 (Sept. 15, 2009)

Applying Gant (discussed immediately above) and holding that the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence (papers) obtained during a warrantless search of his vehicle subsequent to his arrest for driving with an expired registration and failing to notify the DMV of an address change. Because the defendant had been removed from the vehicle, handcuffed, and was sitting on a curb when the search occurred, there was no reason to believe that he was within reaching distance or otherwise able to access the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Additionally, there was no evidence that the arresting officer believed that the papers were related to the charged offenses and furthermore, it would be unreasonable to think that papers seen on the passenger seat of the car were related to those offenses.