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Can a drug dog sniff your car at a traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2017 | Blog, Firm News |

South Dakota enjoys a thriving tourist business, but many visitors bring their medical marijuana prescriptions from another state, not realizing that South Dakota law does not recognize the prescription as legal. If the police stop you in a routine traffic stop, can they use a drug dog to search your vehicle?


The U.S. Supreme Court answered this question in Rodriguez v. United States, No. 13-9972. In Rodriguez, the question was whether the officer could extend a traffic stop to search the vehicle. The officer had finished issuing a written warning to Rodriguez, then had his dog circle the vehicle. When the dog alerted to drugs in Rodriguez’s vehicle, the officer arrested Rodriguez.


Rodriguez won his case 


Rodriguez moved to suppress the evidence, saying it violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The police unlawfully detained him after the stop to search his vehicle. Justice Ginsberg, in the decision that affirmed Rodriguez, stated, “An officer, in other words, may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop. But, he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual.” The Court sent the case back to the lower court to determine if there had been reasonable cause to stop Rodriguez for the search.


South Dakota drug charges are serious 


The bottom line is yes, a drug dog can search your vehicle during a routine traffic stop, but generally, when the traffic stop ends, the time to search is done. If you are charged with a drug crime in South Dakota, it can have serious consequences, even if you are not a resident in the state. You need to know how this charge and possible conviction may impact your life. An experienced defense attorney can give you the legal counsel you need to help you find the best possible outcome for your situation.