Police dogs are highly effective partners to officers when on the search for illegal substances. If a drug-sniffing dog detects such substances within your vehicle during a traffic stop, you might feel that you have no power left to defend yourself.
In reality, though, you do have rights that can protect you in certain situations involving the use of drug-sniffing dogs. Understanding these rights is an important part of building a case that can secure your freedom.
When can the police use a drug-sniffing dog for a search?
Police officers can use a drug-sniffing dog to search outside your vehicle. If the dog alerts in response to your car, an officer can use that as probable cause to search the interior of your vehicle without your consent. However, law enforcement must have a reasonable cause to pull you over in the first place. They also cannot hold you for an extended period while waiting for a police dog to arrive on the scene.
How can you defend yourself after a drug search?
Your case is not over even if a drug-sniffing dog alerts on your vehicle. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures conducted by the government or law enforcement officials. Even if a police dog successfully alerts to the presence of illegal drugs, the subsequent seizure of controlled substances is unlawful if the officer is guilty of conducting a wrongful traffic stop or violates proper procedures in any other way.
It is important to be aware of your rights as they pertain to traffic stops. You can choose to remain silent and withhold consent to a search or to the retrieval of a police dog.