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Supreme Court Rules: Cops Can’t Detain Suspects to wait for Drug-sniffing Dogs

Tuesday / April 28, 2015

On April 21, 2015 the United States Supreme Court made a ruling on whether an officer may extend an already completed traffic stop for a canine sniff without reasonable suspicion. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure to prevent police from extending a traffic stop to allow for a drug-sniffing dog to arrive.


In Rodriguez v. United States, Rodriguez was pulled over for a traffic violation in Nebraska. The police officer pulled Rodriguez over, checked his license and information and issued a warning for driving on the shoulder. The Officer had taken care of all the business that was the reason for the stop, handed Rodriguez the warning citation, then asked Rodriguez for permission to walk his drug-sniffing dog around his vehicle. Rodriguez denied the officer’s request. The officer detained Rodriguez until a back-up officer arrived. The drug-sniffing dog then sniffed around the vehicle and alerted to the presence of drugs. Once the officer issued the warning to Rodriguez until the time the dog alerted to the presence of drugs, seven to eight minutes passed of Rodriguez being detained.


In reviewing whether this detainment was lawful, the court looked to past rulings on similar issues. “Because addressing the infraction is the purpose of the stop, it may ‘“last no longer than is necessary to effectuate th[at] purpose.’” See Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U. S. 405 (2005). The seizure remains lawful only “so long as [unrelated] inquiries do not measurably extend the duration of the stop.” See Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U. S. 323, 330 (2009). In this case, the court states that an officer “may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual. In its decision, the court held, “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 seizure.”


If you have more questions about the being detained to wait for drug-sniffing dogs, or if you or anyone you know has been charged with a crime, immediately seek an attorney’s help to ensure the accused’s rights are protected. To schedule a no obligation consultation with my office, visit my website at: or by calling me at 480-331-7568.

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