Supreme Court Says Police Cannot Extend Traffic Stop for Drug Dog Sniff

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Rodriguez v. United States 575 US _____ (2015)

The issue in this case: whether police routinely may extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct a dog sniff.

The answer: NO.

Police violated the suspect’s 4th Amendment when they extended a stop to perform a dog-sniff of the vehicle, which was stopped for a traffic violation.

In this case, the K-9 was in the police cruiser with the officer when he stopped a car for a routine traffic violation. The driver refused to consent to a dog-sniff. The cop called for backup. The extended time violated the driver’s 4th amendment rights, according to the Court.

The opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, stated that “a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.” The court held that “[a]bsent reasonable suspicion, police extension of a traffic stop in order to conduct a dog sniff violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.”

The court concluded that there must be additional, articulated reasonable suspicion in order to detain a person beyond the time it takes to conduct the investigation of the traffic violation. “The critical question is not whether the dog sniff occurs before or after the officer issues a ticket, but whether conducting the sniff adds time to the stop.”

This is a great case for the 4th amendment.

Were you stopped and did police run a drug dog around your car? If so, call our office today to discuss your options.

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