How Long Can A Police Officer Hold Me During A Traffic Stop To Wait On A Drug Sniffing Dog?

By: James Davis

Popular in Florida and throughout the rest of the country as a means to literally sniff out drugs, the accuracy (and constitutionality) of these animals has been questioned for years. That being the case, they are still in use under various circumstances and something to be aware of when you are pulled over during an otherwise routine traffic stop.

One of the most commonly asked questions related to these searches is how long can a Florida police officer hold you during a traffic stop to wait on a dog sniffer?

The Basics

The use of dog sniffers is legal during the course of a legitimate traffic stop. It of course follows that if the police stopped you for no good reason, then any subsequent use of a dog sniffer would not be legal either. But say you have been pulled over for speeding and the police use a dog sniffer to then locate marijuana in your car, can they do that?

Yes they can, and that is precisely what happened in the Supreme Court case that set the precedent for these types of scenarios. In Illinois v. Caballes, the Court ruled that the police do not need reasonable suspicion to use drug dogs to sniff a vehicle during a legitimate traffic stop. Once a dog smells drugs within your car, that signal provides enough probable cause to then search your car.

What about those scenarios where the police do not already have the dog with them when they pull you over?  Under the law, they cannot make you wait for an unreasonable amount of time for a dog to arrive. This is a good thing for many Florida drivers. In fact, they can’t make you wait any longer than it takes for the police to carry out the activities associated with the actual traffic stop. This may include: running your license tags, checking your registration and driver’s license, etc. If those activities are done and the dog has not arrived, you are free to leave.

At the law office of James Davis P.A., we know that getting pulled over is always a stressful situation. Receiving a traffic citation alone is never welcome. When it comes to additional criminal charges associated with drugs found by dog sniffers it is important that you know your rights. Simply put, the police cannot ask you to wait until a drug dog arrives at the scene and you should not consent to any searches. If this has happened to you, be sure to contact us as soon as possible.

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