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Supreme Court: Dogs Can't Sniff for Drugs During Traffic Stops Unless There's Probable Cause

Image: Supreme Court: Dogs Can't Sniff for Drugs During Traffic Stops Unless There's Probable Cause
The sun rises over the U.S. Supreme Court. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images, file)

By    |   Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 07:04 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Tuesday that police cannot prolong routine traffic stops to bring in a drug-sniffing dog without probable cause.

"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," wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The New York Times reported.

Ginsburg's vote was accompanied by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the decision comes in the wake of more than one case concerning constitutional protections against "unreasonable searches and seizures," in which the majority erred on the side of private citizens.

The case, Rodriguez v. United States, emerged from Valley, Nebraska, where a police officer stopped Dennys Rodriguez in his Mercury Mountaineer after observing him swerve into the highway shoulder. After checking license and registration, the officer asked if he could use a trained dog to sniff the vehicle for drugs.

Rodriguez declined, but the officer proceeded and found a bag of meth.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito, thought that a dog sniff does not add much if any time to any traffic stop.

The majority disagreed with that reasoning, however.

"An officer, in other words, may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop, wrote Ginsberg. However, "he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual."



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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Tuesday that police cannot prolong routine traffic stops to bring in a drug-sniffing dog without probable cause.
supreme court, dogs, sniffing, drugs, traffic, stops
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2015-04-22
Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 07:04 AM
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