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Prolonged Detention

posted Jul 29, 2015, 12:33 PM by Resty Manapat

The U.S. Supreme Court last week addressed whether an otherwise completed traffic stop is unreasonable when prolonged for a dog sniff. Rodriguez v. U.S. (2015) 135 S.Ct. 1609, addressed whether a dog sniff conducted after completion of a routine traffic stop, without reasonable suspicion, violated the 4th Amendment and found that it did.


A K-9 officer testified that he saw Rodriguez' car swerve onto the shoulder of the road briefly. The officer testified that he stopped defendant because this was a traffic violation. The officer approached the car. Defendant was driving and had a passenger. The officer got license, reg, and proof of insurance. He also collected the passenger's information. The officer returned to his car to run a records check on Rodriguez and the passenger. When he returned to the car, he asked Rodriguez to come back to his police car. When Rodriguez was told he didn't have to exit the vehicle and go to the officer's car, he didn't. The officer wrote a warning.

The officer again went to the car. He explained the warning to Rodriguez and returned both individual's documents. At that point, the officer testified that all of the business was taken care of. The officer testified that he did not consider Rodriguez free to leave. The officer requested consent to have his dog "walk around" the defendant's car. Rodriguez refused. The officer then ordered Rodriguez to turn off his car and get out.

A fill officer arrived and the officer walked his dog around the car. The dog alerted to the presence of narcotics. Seven to eight minutes passed from the time of the citation until the dog hit on the car.

Officers found methamphetamine in the vehicle. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence as the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the dog search.


The Supreme Court took the case to decide whether police may extend a completed traffic stop, without reasonable suspicion, to conduct a dog search.


The Court reiterated that a car stop is analogous to a pedestrian stop. The stop can last no longer than is necessary to address the traffic violation. Anything longer than that is a problem.

Running Raps, clearing up checks regarding the suspect, is lawful. The officer, however, may not extend the stop absent reasonable suspicion. The Court drew a distinction between the stop and the dog sniff. The dog sniff is not related to roadway safety and is not part of the car stop. The Court made clear that the inquiry is not when the dog sniff happen, but rather whether the investigation unlawfully extends the stop.

The court made clear that the officers may prolong a stop when they have reasonable suspicion to detain. The court did say, however, there may be cases when the suspect may be detained when officers have reasonable suspicion to detain.


Source: Third Degree Communication