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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Oregon Court of Appeals has broadened the reach of warrantless vehicle searches in a ruling this week.

The decision adds to a controversial area of state law that has expanded police powers considerably since it was first taken up in the 1980s.

Oregon law permits police, given probable cause, to search operable vehicles without a warrant.

The court ruled this week that everything connected to a car, including a trailer, is available to a warrantless search.

Advocates say warrantless vehicle searches are necessary tools for police, who need authority to quickly search a car given probable cause.

Critics respond that the courts give police too much latitude. They say decisions that broaden the automobile exception to warrants only make it more likely that police will abuse their power.

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