Sunday, April 26, 2015

Police may not delay a traffic stop for dog sniff

The US Supreme Court ruled that extending an already completed traffic stop in order to conduct a drug sniff violates the Constitution as an unreasonable seizure, reported Jurist. In a 6-3 decision by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the majority held in Rodriguez v. United States that "a seizure justified only by a police-observed traffic violation, therefore, 'become[s] unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete th[e] mission' of issuing a ticket for the violation."
Denny Rodriguez, stopped and warned by Officer Morgan Struble for driving on the shoulder, was detained after refusing to consent to a drug sniff following the conclusion of the traffic stop. Upon conducting the sniff, officers found methamphetamine in the vehicle. In deciding the case, the court relied on precedent set in 2005 in Illinois v. Caballes , in which the court determined that a traffic stop is only warranted as long as it takes to complete the "mission," in this case to ticket Rodriguez for driving on the shoulder. Any detention beyond that mission constitutes an unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment . The court did not determine if reasonable suspicion would permit an officer to extend an already completed stop.
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