State v. Martinez, ___ N.C. App. ___, 795 S.E.2d 386 (Dec. 20, 2016)

After the defendant’s arrest for impaired driving, officers properly searched his vehicle as a search incident to arrest. Applying Arizona v. Gant, the court found that the officer had a reasonable basis to believe that evidence of impaired driving might be found in the vehicle. The defendant denied ownership, possession, and operation of the vehicle to the officer both verbally and by throwing the car keys under the vehicle. Based on the totality of the circumstances, including the strong odor of alcohol on the defendant, the defendant’s efforts to hide the keys and refusal to unlock the vehicle, and the officer’s training and experience with regard to impaired driving investigations, the trial court properly concluded that the officer reasonably believed that the vehicle may contain evidence of the offense. In the factual discussion, the court noted that the officer had testified that he had conducted between 20-30 impaired driving investigations, that at least 50% of those cases involved discovery of evidence associated with impaired driving inside the vehicle, such as open containers of alcohol, and that he had been trained to search a vehicle under these circumstances.