| Posted on Thu, April, 23rd 2015 by THCFinder
WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Tuesday police can’t prolong a routine traffic stop to allow a drug-sniffing dog to search the vehicle unless they have a reasonable suspicion of uncovering contraband.
The case is the latest to see the justices reinvigorate constitutional protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” following recent decisions that rejected warrantless cellphone searches and installation of GPS trackers.
Tuesday’s ruling tightens the parameters police should follow when using drug-sniffing dogs during a traffic stop, building on a 2005 precedent allowing the drug searches while stressing such procedures become unlawful if a motorist is detained solely to conduct the search.
“We hold 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 seizures,” JusticeRuth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. She was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The case came from Valley, Neb., where in March 2012 a K-9 officer, Morgan Struble,stopped a Mercury Mountaineer carrying two people after it briefly veered onto a highway shoulder.
It took Mr. Struble about 22 minutes to make his routine checks of the driver’s license, auto registration and proof of insurance, pulling up no outstanding warrants or other reason to delay the vehicle. After giving the driver, Dennys Rodriguez, a warning ticket, Mr. Struble asked permission to walk his drug-sniffing dog, Floyd, around the vehicle.
When Mr. Rodriquez declined, Mr. Struble ordered him out of the car and had him wait until a backup officer arrived. On a walk around the Mountaineer, the dog led the officers to a bag of methamphetamine.
A federal magistrate judge found that Mr. Struble had nothing more than a “large hunch” to justify the search, but admitted the evidence anyway because the procedure imposed only a minimal delay on Mr. Rodriguez.
Federal district and appellate courts upheld that decision. The Supreme Court faulted lower courts.