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The Courts Transportation

Supreme Court Rules Extending Traffic Stop For Dog Sniff Unconstitutional 409

bmxeroh writes: The Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that a police officer may not extend a traffic stop beyond the time needed to complete the tasks related to that stop for the purposes of allowing a trained dog to sniff for drugs. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority (6-3) that police authority "ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are — or reasonably should have been — completed." The case, Rodriguez v. United States, 13-9972, all started with Rodriguez was stopped in Nebraska for driving out of his lane. After he was given the ticket for that infraction, he was made to wait an additional seven to eight minutes for a drug dog to arrive which promptly alerted to the presence of drugs in the car. Upon search, the officers found a small bag of methamphetamine in his possession.
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Supreme Court Rules Extending Traffic Stop For Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

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  • by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @12:54PM (#49521413)

    To be honest, I figured that it /had/ to be a bad ruling and spent a while trying to understand why it was wrong, just because of how they've been lately. Perhaps I'm just paranoid.

    • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:03PM (#49521515) Homepage Journal

      All it will probably do is cause police to take their sweet time writing a citation until the dog gets there.

      • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:19PM (#49521637)

        No, the point is that in order to use the dog, they need to have probable cause of another crime having been committed. There wasn't any probable cause here, so they couldn't use the dog (whether it took longer or not).

        In the UK at least (not sure about the US on this part), at a traffic stop, the police absolutely are not allowed to search your car in any way, unless you give them permission, or they have reasonable suspicion of another crime having been committed.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:38PM (#49521813)

          >> In the UK at least (not sure about the US on this part), at a traffic stop, the police absolutely are not allowed to search your car in any way, unless you give them permission, or they have reasonable suspicion of another crime having been committed.

          It's the same here in the USA. "Reasonable Suspicion" is a pretty low bar, however. There was a line of cases (from the 70s/80s I believe) that outlined what constituted reasonable suspicion, and it included things such as "actively not looking at a cop car when it drove past," "looking at a cop car the entire time it was driving past," "waving to the police car," "not waving back to the officer," etc. In other words, if the officer can argue "something seemed fishy" to him given basically any set of circumstances, then it is reasonable suspicion.

          You need probable cause to do an actual search, however, and a warrant. The exception is for when things are in plain sight: if you can see/hear/smell something illegal from outside. E.g., there is a crack pipe sitting on the seat next to you, then they can seize it and arrest you. Where it becomes controversial is when the senses are augmented: night vision, heat vision, bionic ears, a dog's sensitive nose. Those photons, sound waves, odor molecules obviously aren't contained within your private space (which requires a warrant to search) or they wouldn't have been detected. These cases are about defining those lines.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @05:26PM (#49523745)

            Just so you know -- it isn't actually the same here. There's fairly well established case law involving if /police/ require RS. However... individuals /acting like/ police, that aren't actually police... that "just happen" to have an officer present have no such bar.

            The particular example I'm thinking of is game and fish wardens, who can demand to search your trunk if you happen to be near a forest and it's hunting season. Or not hunting season but near hunting season and you left somewhere with deer. Oh, and by-the-way, there's an officer nearby who happens to be there for his protection -- and now that your trunk is open, all contents are in plain sight.

            It's in state laws, it's been upheld on court challenge.

            Additional problems include the 100 mile "border free zone" https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights-governments-100-mile-border-zone-map where any border patrol agent may search you for any reason. The population that has no 4th amendment right in this region exceeds 2/3 of the US (that's about 200 million people in case you wonder). Once again, the police might not have the right to search you without a warrant, but if it's customs, ice, border patrol or whatever -- they just might need police or DEA there for their protection.

            So yes, you're sort of, just barely technically correct. But in practice, they can and will be present for a search without a warrant.

          • by Montezumaa ( 1674080 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @05:22AM (#49526307)

            You have no idea what "Reasonable, Articulable Suspicion"(RAS from this point forward) is, and how it came about. Terry v. Ohio(1968) is the case you would want to research, and how "Terry Frisks" came to be an exception(to which I don't completely agree with, based on court reasoning, and the rather plain language within the US Constitution(not so much for US or state law). No matter, probable cause is still absolutely required to initiate a "stop" or "temporary detention"(i.e. traffic stops, "Tier 2" encounters). A situation being "fishy" doesn't provide "RAS".

            You are also wrong on searches. Absent "exigent circumstances"(say, gunshots and someone screaming "don't kill me" from within a structure), a search requires a warrant, based on probable cause, which specifies the items, or items, and specific places to be searched. The "Terry Frisk" is an exception, which requires RAS that one, or multiple potential suspects have just committed, are currently committing, or will soon be committing a criminal act, based on training and/or experience, and such a "search" is limited to "patting down" the outer clothing of any subject that qualifies.

            I should also add that a traffic stop requires probable cause to effect. In other words, I can't initiate a traffic stop because some "asshole" didn't present or return a friendly gesture(wave at me, or wave back at me), or because I see an attractive female in a "rough neighborhood". Traffic stops are initiated because I, as a law enforcement officer, or another certified and sworn law enforcement officer personally witnessed the target of said traffic stop violate the portion of state law that applied to violations of traffic law(in the State of Georgia, that would be Title 40 of the O.C.G.A., or "Official Code of Georgia Annotated"). I can't intelligently comment on states outside of the Southeastern United States, but in Georgia, specifically, a citizen cannot legally witness an alleged traffic law violation, report said violation, and have that report be sufficient to provide probable cause to initiate a stop, or effect an arrest(outside of an extreme few violations, which cover the intentional loss of life, loss of life during the commission on another offense, etc). A law enforcement officer must personally witness, or have a verified third-party certified and sworn law enforcement officer(Georgia law enforcement-only, and said law enforcement must have a certification in good standing with the Georgia POST Council, which oversees all law enforcement certification on both the State(Georgia) and local level).

            This isn't a completely comprehensive commentary on the subject. I hold a certification from the State of Georgia's POST Council(Peace Officer's Standards and Training Council), among numerous other certifications and recorded training. I am an ex-law enforcement officer, and I keep myself up-to-date on current training, case law, and other important information, as it pertains to law enforcement.

            I am also happy to see this ruling, as it was long overdue. I am grown tired of this, among other problems, within the law enforcement field.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:39PM (#49521827)

          And yet I was stopped and searched on the street in London, with no probable cause at all, just because "there are a lot of drugs in this area". When I asked what would happen if I didn't consent to the search, I was told I'd be arrested.

          That made me understand the objection to stop-and-frisk - it's bs to let the cops do this with absolutely no probable cause.

        • by Comrade Ogilvy ( 1719488 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:42PM (#49521859)
          Hmm...actually the ruling is more narrow than that. The Court seems to be saying that if the police officer happens to have a dog on hand right now it can sniff around the car. But it is not reasonable to keep a citizen waiting around for the convenience of the police officer to use every possible implement that comes right up "to the line" of the citizen's rights.
          • by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:12PM (#49522171) Homepage Journal

            Reaching back to law school memories here, but I recall a case (decided in the 80s or 90s?) where the Court ruled that drug-sniffing dogs do not require any suspicion, because you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the scent of drugs coming from your stuff. So this ruling just addresses a follow-on question: If the police are permitted to use drug-sniffing dogs at will, can they also detain you without reasonable suspicion and make you wait around for the dog to show up. The answer was a very reasonable "no." If they don't have evidence that you've done something wrong, they can't detain you.

            I think this rule is reasonable on both counts. The Fourth Amendment doesn't give you a substantive right to commit crimes and not be found out. It only protects you from unreasonable police procedures. If you are carrying an illegal substance that a dog can detect without invading your privacy, that's your problem. But the police should never be able to detain a citizen for any reason, for any amount of time, without probable cause that the person has committed or is committing a crime. To rule otherwise is to place us in a police state.

            • by TFlan91 ( 2615727 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:23PM (#49522283)

              "If you are carrying an illegal substance that a dog can detect without invading your privacy, that's your problem."

              Is it really though?

              Say dogs didn't exist. That we had to invent a tool that acts as a dog's nose. Say this tool had limited mobility, you couldn't bring it everywhere, only to where it was needed.

              What then? Could you not argue that dogs and this invented tool are the same thing?

              • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:43PM (#49522451) Homepage

                In that case, the ruling would probably be: You can't pull a motorist over for speeding, write him a ticket, and then force him to wait until a Drug Detector 9000 can arrive on the scene.

                Now, if all police had small, portable devices that could instantly detect illegal substances (something like a police officer's version of a Star Trek tricorder), then there might have been a different ruling. After all, then the driver would just need to wait for the officer to turn on the device and measure the car for a few seconds. Much less of an inconvenience than "wait almost 10 minutes until a dog gets here." If/when Police Tricorders are invented and rolled out, I'm sure there will be legal cases to define when it is and isn't appropriate to use them.

                • That's pretty much completely correct. If the cops had a magic button that would reveal criminal activity and ONLY criminal activity, with 0.000000% chance of revealing anything else about you, there would be no constitutional problems with pushing the button and arresting the people who light up. There is no constitutional right to commit crimes and not be found out "unless the police work for it in some imagined, chivalrous manner." The reason we have protections against unreasonable search and seizure is

              • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @06:53PM (#49524295) Homepage

                How about prove in a court of law, beyond a reasonable doubt that the dog was triggered by a specific drug and not by the scent of yesterdays hamburger purchased at a drive through or purposefully triggered by law enforcement seeking to keep up quotas by guessing who is guilty and who is not. Now that would be interesting witness testimony woof woof.

            • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @03:20PM (#49522817) Journal

              There is a lawyer who's doing some nice comics that explain all those intricacies - he has a strip [lawcomic.net] covering dogs.

              However, dogs are still BS, for the simple reason that a signal from the dog is considered to be probable cause, which is ridiculous because they can be conditioned quite easily to do so at the handler's signal (and often do it without the signal just to please the handler).

          • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @03:28PM (#49522901) Homepage

            which is funny because it seems they clearly have not actually reviewed the use of the dogs themselves because, in this instance, they are less scientifically sound than a polygraph.

            Dogs have a great sense of smell but even better sense of what their pack leader wants from them. They play clever hans even better than they smell and its been shown over and over that dogs are useless in the case that there is..... ANY SUSPICION AT ALL.

            Quite simply, the moment an officer decided he should use the dog, the dog "smelling something" is almost a foregone conclusion, even in the absence of any actual substance to smell. This has been shown quite readily by simply putting dogs and their handlers through courses with no smell, but several visual indicators for handlers, they found that the vast majority of the time dogs had a "hit" even when the rate should have been a flat 0. When there was an indication to the trainer....they hit WAY more often.

            Dogs are only useful in manhunts and at checkpoints where searches are ubiquitous and there is no reason to suspect any individual.

            Whenever there is ANY suspiscion, the dog is JUST A PROP.

        • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:46PM (#49521905)

          In the US it's been a long standing principle upheld by the courts that "fishing expeditions" are not allowed. That is, a traffic stop is for a traffic stop only, unless there is clear evidence of other illegal activity (the driver appears intoxicated, a dead body is in the back seat, etc). Warrants explicitly list what can and can not be searched.

          So there's nothing really new here except the old story of law enforcement attempting to expand their powers and the courts pushing back again.

        • The dog created the probable cause for the actual search. The ruling was that you can't unduly detain people unless you already have probable cause.

          The dog sniffing around your car is not considered a search of the car (because it's searching the area around the car that is not part of your personal property. If your car is leaking drug molecules that a dog can smell, then that is probable cause for a search of your car. It's like if there is blood leaking out of your car onto the street, it's probable c

        • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @03:48PM (#49523075)

          No, the point is that in order to use the dog, they need to have probable cause of another crime having been committed. There wasn't any probable cause here, so they couldn't use the dog (whether it took longer or not).

          That is simply not true. Read the opinion linked to the in summary. The finding is solely based on the fact that the duration of the traffic stop was increased while the officer waited for backup to arrive before conducting the dog sniff. The question of whether or not dog sniffs require reasonable suspicion or probable cause during a traffic stop was already decided in Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U. S. 405, 407, a case cited in the present opinion, and it was found that no reasonable suspicion or probable cause was required unless, according to Caballes: the stop “become[s] unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete th[e] mission.” (That mission being to deal with the traffic violation.)

      • by fatboy ( 6851 )

        No, it just means you are now going to jail for a seat belt (or other minor) violation, so they can then search your vehicle.

      • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

        I'm curious how this affects states that consider a traffic stop to be the equivalent of an arrest. Typically you are required to sign a document (typically the ticket) stating that you are being released on your own recognizance and must appear in court when summoned. If you refuse to sign, or sometimes at the officer's discretion, the arrest continues and you may be taken to jail immediately.

        What if the officer just decides to continue your arrest until the dogs are done?

    • by gatfirls ( 1315141 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:04PM (#49521517)

      ...in a pretty blatant violation of the 4th. Pretty scary even though the case was won.

      IANAL but from what I gather is basically the dissent is that the violation of the 4th isn't that *unreasonable* so it's ok.

      (not to mention drug dogs are complete BS anyway)

      • (not to mention drug dogs are complete BS anyway)

        OK, I'll bite. Why are drug dogs "complete BS"? Dogs are demonstrably useful and effective in sniffing out all sorts of items. They are a well established tool in our legal system and for good reason. Clearly there was no probable cause to use a drug dog for a search in this case. That does not make drug sniffing dogs "complete BS".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The dogs are demonstrably a placebo that "triggers" when the handling cop signals the dog to do so.

          • by mark-t ( 151149 )
            Are you then suggesting that officers who use dogs to sniff for drugs always plant the drugs?
            • How did you go from "drug dogs are demonstrably signalled to 'find' things in many cases by their handlers" to "officers always plant drugs when they're found"?

              • by mark-t ( 151149 )
                I would think it otherwise be a rather extraordinary coincidence that when the dog appears to react to the presence of drugs, that they also somehow, and with such consistency also happen to find such drugs.
                • Re:Drug dogs (Score:5, Informative)

                  by RazorSharp ( 1418697 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:07PM (#49522117)

                  I've known people who have had their car searched because a dog allegedly signaled that there were drugs in the car when there were not. They looked like stoners (long hair and tie-dyed shirts) so the cops probably thought the odds were good they would find something. When they didn't they just blamed the dog and said something along the lines of, "well, you were probably smoking pot in this vehicle at some point, and that's probably what the dog smelled."

                  The dog is just an excuse to violate your rights.

                  • I've known people who have had their car searched because a dog allegedly signaled that there were drugs in the car when there were not. They looked like stoners (long hair and tie-dyed shirts) so the cops probably thought the odds were good they would find something. When they didn't they just blamed the dog and said something along the lines of, "well, you were probably smoking pot in this vehicle at some point, and that's probably what the dog smelled."

                    The dog is just an excuse to violate your rights.

                    THIS. There are no statistics on how frequently dogs "alert" and the subsequent search finds no contraband. The police document when they do find something in such a search but don't document it when they don't, so the statistics make it appear that dogs are extremely effective. When confronted with double-blind tests they don't perform nearly as well. They also generate a lot of false positives, when training the dog almost always encounters what it is looking for so when they get in the field they ten

                    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

                      There are no statistics on how frequently dogs "alert" and the subsequent search finds no contraband.

                      This reasoning reminds me of how people allege that the fact that there is no real evidence that NASA tried to cover up that they "never really went to the moon" is somehow indicative of or suggests that they actually *are* covering it up. It's called circular reasoning, and it's a logical fallacy.

                      Have you considered that the possibilty that reason there aren't any published statistics for it is because i

            • He's suggesting that dogs can easily be manipulated to do what their handler wants and only the handler is the one who interprets what the trigger means.

              I can wink at my dog and it will sit, that took like a week and the dog is far from highly trained.

          • The dogs are demonstrably a placebo that "triggers" when the handling cop signals the dog to do so.

            You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. About dogs generally, or about their use in quickly showing awareness of explosives, drugs, and other items. They are uncannily accurate once they've been shown the difference between placebos and the real thing. Oh, and you also have no understanding of how the word "placebo" is used.

            • He actually does know what placebo means, because I've seen articles suggesting what he's saying.

              That is, however good a dog's scent of smell is, the real successes come from cops with hunches whose attitude towards the suspect triggers the dog into a "response". Apparently a drug dog response constitutes probable cause, and its well known that dogs are quite attuned to the behavior / stance of their handlers /owners and can be triggered into an aggressive response by the handler.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by sjbe ( 173966 )

            The dogs are demonstrably a placebo that "triggers" when the handling cop signals the dog to do so.

            Have you actually worked with drug sniffing dogs? I have. They're actually the real deal in almost all cases. In fact one of my immediate family members owned a retired one. I also do work with tracking dogs as a hobby. While I don't doubt for a moment that there are some crooked cops using drug dogs inappropriately, this does not accurately or fairly describe most of them. Simple fact is that they are commonly used to find contraband and are successful in doing so regularly. They are successful in f

        • Properly used, drug dogs are good at detecting drugs. The problem isn't the dogs, it is the handlers. A trained drug dog can "alert" when given a cue by the handler, falsely indicating drugs, when the dog didn't sniff any. There is no way to interrogate a drug dog in court about what it was smelling or if it was just following daddy's orders to alert on cue.

          I would, if I were a lawyer, put a drug dog as a witness, and if I could get it to cue up an alert, then I would call for dismissal of all things after

        • One reason: They, or the handling officer are held to no accountability if they are wrong.

          We aren't privy to the data but I will bet the 'hit' rate when a dog is called to the scene of a traffic stop is nearing 100%. And god forbid if they really think they are right, they can take your car and dismantle it.

          If they are wrong...then what? Sorry about your constitutional rights.

          I'm all for dogs being used to assist in a search once probable cause is established. Using them and only them as probable cause

        • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:44PM (#49522463)

          I'm too lazy to add anchor tags, but here are some references for you.

          The UCDavis study is the best description of this -- when actually tested in scenarios designed to expose false positive results, that's EXACTLY what happened -- the dogs alerted in every place they shouldn't have and where the handler was given cues that the dogs would alert, the dogs were MORE likely to alert.

          This is a huge problem with using dogs. It's not that dogs aren't good at sniff detection, its that dogs are so inclined to please their handlers that even when the handlers aren't purposefully lying they are still signaling their dogs that they should find something. So how do you separate out the dog actually sniffing out drugs versus the experienced profiling of the handler who expects their target to have drugs, gets a false alert from the dog and then discovers drugs from a hand search?

          I don't think we CAN know if it was a legitimate signal from the dog or just the officer's experience that $Socialtype or $MinorityMember is very likely to have drugs.

          It gets much, much worse if you take away the assumption that the cops/handler are 100% honest all the time. Do you really think that there isn't even some deliberate dishonesty with dogs? The worst outcome for the cops has been "well, the dog knows you had something in here but since I didn't find anything I'll let you go". The best outcome for the cops is that they get away with an illegal search that results in an arrest and conviction based on a dog's behavior that is beyond question, because, you know, dogs are so good at sniffing and its "a well established tool in our legal system and for good reason."

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

          http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/w... [ucdavis.edu]

          http://www.cato.org/blog/cleve... [cato.org]

    • by ZombieDonut ( 1291338 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:07PM (#49521541)
      I couldn't believe they got this one right either. I drive a traffic cop's wet dream, a black Honda Civic Si, which I've had since high school. I've been prone to speed so of course I've been pulled over, but the amount of times I've been forced to wait for a damn drug dog because the police officer gives me some line about 'looking under the influence' has been absurd. Twice in Florida, then twice again when I moved here to California. Police officers INSIST I'm under the influence at nearly every traffic stop. Can't a hispanic male just be speeding and not be doing so under the influence? I'm really happy to see this ruling.
      • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:56PM (#49522009) Homepage

        A Civic Si is about as fast as a nun in a chastity belt that's been welded shut. Congrats for managing to get a speeding ticket, but honestly, keep it under 25 in those residential areas.

      • Then stop speeding excessively. Why pull all this attention onto yourself?

        It's shit like this that makes me laugh at those who complain about the authorities. I live in Canada so maybe it's different here but I still hear people with the right ethnicity (white) complain about cops and then they say something like "well, I speed 30 over all the time".

        I'm pretty sure cops really don't give a damn about you or anybody else if they appear clean. They'll get on your case the minute you act like a dick or show si

        • by ZombieDonut ( 1291338 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:51PM (#49522525)

          Then stop speeding excessively. Why pull all this attention onto yourself?

          I accept the consequences of my actions. If I'm speed and get pulled over for a speeding ticket then that's my fault and I'm never rude or defiant.

          It's shit like this that makes me laugh at those who complain about the authorities.

          I don't recall complaining about the authorities, merely their habit of looking for a problem that doesn't exist..

          I'm pretty sure cops really don't give a damn about you or anybody else if they appear clean.

          Whoa there buddy. So you're saying when I'm sober I appear unclean!? That's some straight up prejudice right there.

          They'll get on your case the minute you act like a dick or show signs of criminal activity.

          I'm sure they would, but since I don't "act like a dick" and I'm not a criminal then how do you explain it? Is it my "unclean" ethnicity then? That seems to be what you're implying.

          There's a saying I like: "There's not smoke without fire". Cop sees smoke so they look for the fire.

          When there is no smoke and they insist there is a fire, what then? How can they suspect drugs when there aren't any? Perhaps you should leave the fire detection to the fire department.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by bigpat ( 158134 )
      A sane Supreme Court would extend the right to privacy to drug use and possession.
      • by Zordak ( 123132 )

        A sane Supreme Court would extend the right to privacy to drug use and possession.

        Because the Constitution totally says that people have substantive right to possess and use drugs. It's right there in the Eleventy-First Amendment!

        (Pro tip: If there are laws you don't agree with, the place to address them is the Legislature, not the Court.)

    • by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:15PM (#49521599) Journal

      To be honest, I figured that it /had/ to be a bad ruling and ...

      No, it's all due to the stupid vague line between a "temporary stop", a "detention", and an "arrest". Our various branches of government have struggled with it for two centuries now.

      Police need people to interact with them so the officers can do the job of investigating crimes. But legally in order to do that they must seize the thing, seize the person, seize the property, whatever. The requirements about due process, seizure of people and property, the law needed to allow for certain types of temporary seizures of people, and the balance is a hard one.

      The traffic stop is just that, a stop. A temporary detention that can only last as long as necessary for the administrative task.

      In the ruling (and according to most judges already), the officer stopped the individual and performed the task of writing a citation. Anything more than that is no longer a stop, it becomes either a detention or an arrest.

      The ruling is clear on what the problem was here. The officer testified that they "had all their documents back and a copy of the written warning. I got all the reasons for the stop out of the way." Then after the stop was complete he did not allow the man to leave, even after the man asked to go, so the officer could call in a drug-sniffing dog. That was a second detention, done without probable cause (since he had already dealt with the reason for the stop), and was therefore unlawful.

      • That was a second detention, done without probable cause (since he had already dealt with the reason for the stop), and was therefore unlawful.

        The lack of probable cause is not related to the fact that the officer already dealt with the reason for the stop. Hypothetically speaking, on the officer's return to the vehicle he could have noticed something that would lead to the moving violation turning into a longer detention. That was apparently not the case here.

      • ..and was therefore unlawful.

        why not punish both?

    • Perhaps I'm just paranoid.

      That'll be the crack.

    • But the votes don't fall on easily identifiable ideological lines, so I don't know whether to be happy or outraged! Tell me what to think, CNN!
    • Well at least the summery seems to leave open the ability to use drug sniffing dogs/tools enmass without suspicion, you just have to complete that task quickly.
  • Dissenting 3 votes (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:01PM (#49521481)
    The dissenters' statements agree in principle with the majority but cite reasons that the majority's opinion is in error in this case, i.e. that there was reasonable cause to call in the dog and that the delay was not excessive.
  • I don't get it (Score:2, Interesting)

    We do follow a lot of SCOTUS on Slashdot, so I guess the post matches. I'm kind of with the dissent on this if just because the ambiguity of authority this creates. It doesn't look like he was under the influence at the time, but the term "driving out of his lane" does kind of give reasonable cause for drug use, but maybe thats profiling. The article points out that dog searches are legal and its ok to arrest people traffic violations where the search could of been carried out.

    I mean think about it, appar

    • But it essentially becomes a fishing expedition, and that is what the 4th is supposed to prevent.

      So you go from "gee, sir, you made a bad lane change" to "well, let's see, why don't we hold you until something we have no probable cause can be investigated". They can escalate this kind of thing really quick, and go outside of the law.

      In a world in which police can steal your money without oversight of the court by saying "well, he had cash, and we thought it might be drug related (wink wink) so we took it"

      • This ruling doesn't seem to help avoid the fishing expedition. If anything it almost encourages additional fishing to justify the time it takes to allow backup units to arrive. I mean it doesn't really help outline what is reasonable it doesn't prevent the search if the dog had already been in the car. All it does is create a very slim frame up where you can't wait for another unit to arrive, because you announced you where done with the ticket.

        I've been pulled over maybe 4 times since I got my license.

        • by afidel ( 530433 )

          All it does is create a very slim frame up where you can't wait for another unit to arrive, because you announced you where done with the ticket.

          No, this creates a reasonableness test for a dog search without probable cause. If tickets are normally handled in 5 minutes and the officer suddenly takes 45 minutes to issue a ticket and it just so happens the drug dog shows up in 44 minutes, well then that's outside the ruling. This is where video evidence will be important, defense attorneys can establish that

    • If you have never put a wheel over a lane marker I guess you can be as sanctimonious as you want.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <<slebrun> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:18PM (#49521627) Journal

      It's unreasonable search.

      Say you get pulled over for a busted tail light, and the cop notices a corpse in your back seat. That's OK.

      Say he says 'Ho-lee sheeeit, smells like dead body. Pop your trunk open.' And hey, there's a dead body in the trunk. That's OK.

      But he can't say 'I done pulled you over for a busted tail light, but I'mma search your car for a corpse, even though I have no reason to believe there's any corpses.' Not reasonable.

      Now, this guy gets pulled over for lane swerve. Fine. Cop can sniff his breath, look for signs of intoxication. Cop can eyeball the seats through the window, the ashtray, looking for booze bottles, roaches, whatever. But he can't say 'I have no real reason to, but I'm turning this traffic stop into a drug stop, *but first I need to call in extra equipment.* That's unreasonable.

      If he'd happened to have had the dog with him, and decided to have the dog give the car a once-over, fine. Although I question the validity of dog searches; we know that animals can pick up on clues to what their owners want. See the Clever Hans phenomena. If the cop wants to search the car, the dog might just pick up on that and alert.

    • This is why it's important to yell loudly and repeatedly "AM I BEING DETAINED?!?!" whenever speaking to a cop.

      • This is why it's important to yell loudly and repeatedly "AM I BEING DETAINED?!?!" whenever speaking to a cop.

        Yes, because being obnoxious and shouting at cops is a super way to show that you're not trying to distract/deflect. Do you do your job better when someone is screaming in your face? Really? Fascinating.

    • Bayes prior (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:35PM (#49521785) Homepage Journal

      It doesn't look like he was under the influence at the time, but the term "driving out of his lane" does kind of give reasonable cause for drug use, but maybe thats profiling.

      The problem with this logic is that it fails the "prior probability" test.

      Suppose a policeman searches and finds the suspect carrying a large amount of cash, say $4000. That's consistent with a (supposed) drug purchase, so the cash can be confiscated under asset forfeiture laws [wikipedia.org] (assets used in the commission of a crime).

      Suppose a policeman notes a youtube video of a chemistry experiment showing a balance scale, some beakers, and jars of chemicals. Those are consistent with "meth lab", so the policeman can search and confiscate all the equipment in the poster's house (this has happened).

      The problem with each of these, and your position, is that there is significant prior probability that the behaviour in question is *not* indicative of criminal activity. You are reversing the conditional probabilities.

      To put it in words, you are equating "probability of driving out-of-lane, given that he's on drugs" (quite high), with "probability that he's using drugs, given out-of-lane driving" (actually, quite low).

      People temporarily drive out-of-lane a great deal to avoid animals and small obstacles, and people temporarily drive out-of-lane because they're distracted. The number of people out-of-lane because they're on drugs is vanishingly small.

      Taken to extremes (and we know the police will do this), pretty-much *any* behaviour can be considered consistent with drug use.

      In the case of the home lab above, it doesn't matter that the poster is missing key components, nor that he only has some of the ingredients. "Meth makers use glassware, he's got glassware, therefore he's a meth maker".

      You see where this leads?

      If a policeman observes a crime, take the appropriate action - that's fine. If he *observes* another crime while dealing with it, that's fine too.

      But that's not a justification to rummage around in a person's rights just to see what can be pinned on the suspect.

      If he doesn't observe a crime, he shouldn't go looking for one.

    • I know dogs are smart and all, but I've never seen one administer a field sobriety test, which is the appropriate response when someone is suspected of being under the influence.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:20PM (#49522251)

      IMO, never read an article about a SCOTUS opinion. Always read the opinion itself [supremecourt.gov]. They are not difficult to find and not difficult to read.

      It doesn't look like he was under the influence at the time, but the term "driving out of his lane" does kind of give reasonable cause for drug use, but maybe thats profiling.

      No, it really doesn't.

      Maybe the driver was futzing with their cell phone. Maybe their eyesight has degraded but they still have a license. Maybe there was something in the road that the officer didn't see. Maybe there was a bee in the car. Maybe the passenger grabbed the wheel. Maybe the vehicle is malfunctioning (say, headlights are out). Maybe the driver hit a pothole. Maybe the lines were unclear, having been repainted. Maybe the driver was falling asleep.

      The core issue here was that the police officer was finished with the traffic stop. Then he asked to do a search, and the driver refused, and then he detained the driver.

      Searches are legal, but waiting for backup to conduct a search isn't?

      You can't detain someone longer than is reasonable (4th Amendment), and the decision says it's only reasonable to detain someone as long as it takes to complete the traffic stop (a definition established in Illinois v. Caballes in 2005). So case law says that the 4th Amendment's "reasonable" means "as long as it takes to finish the traffic stop." By the officer's own admission, the traffic stop was complete. Since nothing incriminating had been discovered by that point, that makes further detention or search unreasonable, and that makes the it all unconstitutional.

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:10PM (#49521563) Homepage Journal

    It's time we repeal the Fourth Amendment. Police need to be able to find all the criminals using any means necessary. Won't someone please think of the children!!

    (And if you post arguments against this proposal, I'll push to repeal the First Amendment as well)

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @01:23PM (#49521677) Homepage
    Just because the supreme court says you cant, doesnt mean departments wont push the envelope to see if they can challenge it, and for how long. Most minorities arrested for example never see a courtroom, but instead are strong-armed. Typically a prosecutor meets with the accused, threatens them with a dozen or so charges from failure to yield to a stop sign to improper socks after labour day and throws a random double digit integer of years in a prison described like Auschwitz. Once the accused is terrified into pleading guilty for a "reduced sentence" the prosecutor packs up their briefcase and bellies up to the local pub assured he will get to keep his job. Prosecutors that are fair and pursue lenient charges tend to prevent the DA and Judges from getting re-elected, and will eventually get shown the door.
  • by sampson7 ( 536545 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @02:42PM (#49522449)

    Yo Nerds -- you really need to at least glance at the decision before you all start condemning/praising the decision. In reality, this case is a big nothing-burger and does nothing to promote civil rights in America. The entire "meat" of the decision is in this paragraph:

    The Magistrate Judge found that detention for the dog sniff in this case was not independently supported by individualized suspicion, see App. 100, and the District Court adopted the Magistrate Judge’s findings. The Court of Appeals, however, did not review that determination. The question whether reasonable suspicion of criminal activity justified detaining Rodriguez beyond completion of the traffic infraction investigation, therefore, remains open for Eighth Circuit consideration on remand. [citations omitted]

    What does this mean? It means that the officer was honest/stupid enough to say during the original trial that he had no "individualized suspicion" about this particular vehicle or this particular defendant. All the cop had to do was "articulate" an "individualized suspicion" about why he wanted to search the car with a drug-sniffing dog, and the whole case would have turned out differently. As it is, the case just gets remanded back to the lower court to look into the issue some more. Basically, the Supreme Court is inviting the 8th Circuit to come back with a finding that the cop probably had a reason to suspect drugs, and therefore everything was fine. This is anything but a sweeping victory for civil rights.

UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things. -- Doug Gwyn

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