It has often been said that dogs are a man’s best friend, and that makes perfect sense when you look at the relationship that humans and canines have had for years. For centuries, dogs have been beloved companions, and dogs often work alongside law enforcement professionals in the field. Today, tens of thousands of dogs work with their police officer handlers, and one of their most common duties is to use their exceptional olfactory abilities to sniff out illicit substances. During traffic stops, it is not uncommon for an officer to use a drug-sniffing dog, but the legality of this tactic has been questioned.
The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution are called the Bill of Rights, and they include many rights that are core American values, including the right against unreasonable searches. The Fourth Amendment contains this right and states that American citizens have the right to “be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,” and for those things to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” unless a warrant has been issued.
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Illinois Supreme Court have heard cases pertaining to the constitutionality of using drug-sniffing dogs during traffic stops. In a rather notable case that made its way to the Illinois Supreme Court, Illinois v. Caballes established that the use of a drug-sniffing dog during an Illinois traffic stop is not a violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights. The court stated that this is permissible because police dogs are only trained to detect the presence of illegal substances, in which citizens do not have legitimate privacy interests.
However, the court also stated that the only way the use of a drug-sniffing dog is legal is if the handler and the dog can complete their duties in a reasonable amount of time. Police cannot hold individuals at traffic stops for any longer than the amount of time it takes to reasonably complete normal traffic stop procedures.
Dogs are some of the most loyal and hardworking service animals, and their precise sense of smell has proven to be helpful in detecting illegal substances, but their use may not always be legal. If you are facing drug charges because of a drug-sniffing dog during an Illinois traffic stop, you should speak to a Rolling Meadows, IL drug charges defense lawyer right away. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law has more than 20 years of experience defending clients against many types of crimes, including drug charges. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 847-253-3400.
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