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SCOTUS weighs in on use of drug-sniffing dogs during stops

Back in 1971, as some readers here in Dublin may remember, then President Nixon dramatically declared a "war on drugs," as is explained by the Drug Policy Alliance. In the years that followed, drug agencies grew in size and strength, resulting in hundreds of thousands of drug charges and equally as many convictions. Although drug detection techniques have become more sophisticated over the years, one staple has remained the same for generations: the drug-sniffing dog.

But the use of the drug-sniffing dog to find drugs and other illegal substances has fallen under intense scrutiny by citizens as well as the courts over the years. From the highly publicized case of Florida v. Jardines to the recent case of Rodriguez v. United States, the debate over whether the use of drug-sniffing dogs constitutes an illegal search and seizure has been left up to the country's highest court to decide.

And in Rodriguez v. United States, the high court delivered a decision some were not surprised to hear.

For those who have not been following the case through the courts, it asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the parameters of a traffic stop in order to determine when an officer has overstepped their bounds and has violated a person's Fourth Amendment rights.

Even though the traffic stop appeared to have been completed, the officer made Rodriguez wait several minutes for the drug-sniffing dog to arrive. In juxtaposition to the case we mentioned in one of our articles, The U.S. Supreme Court held in Rodriguez that the officer had violated the driver's Fourth Amendment rights because the officer had unreasonably extended the traffic stop in order to obtain the probable cause needed to search the driver's vehicle.

Because of this court decision, officers across the nation, including here in California, will need to consider the duration of traffic stops so as not to violate a driver's rights down the road.

Source: The Hill, "Supreme Court: Cops can’t hold suspects to wait for drug-sniffing dog," Julian Hattem, April 21, 2015

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