SUPREME COURT NARROWS OFFICER’S ABILITY TO EXTEND TRAFFIC STOP FOR DOG SNIFF

On April 21, 2015, The United States Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement may not detain a citizen longer than necessary to conduct a dog sniff for drugs.  This opinion clarifies and narrows its previous opinion in Illinois v. Caballes that a dog sniff conducted during a traffic stop does not violate a person’s 4th Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable seizure.
In Rodriguez v. United States, the US Supreme Court held that a police officer may not routinely extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct a dog sniff.   Thus, the Court concluded that even a minimally prolonged (or de minimis) detention to await the arrival of K-9, violated this citizen’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable seizure.  The Court remanded the case to the 8th Circuit to address whether any reasonable suspicion existed to prolong the search.
It is important to note that this illegal detention occurred after Rodriguez lawfully denied permission to the police officer to allow the K-9 to sniff around the car.  This decision will have an impact on any situation where an individual is detained with out justification or cause and longer than necessary to complete an ordinary traffic stop.
Kassius O. Benson is Senior Counsel at Kassius Benson Law, P.A.  Mr. Benson and his attorneys have decades of experience litigating Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues in federal and state courts throughout the country.  Mr. Benson can be reached at (612) 333-2755.

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