Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fourth Amendment Victory re extending traffic stop

In Rodriquez v. U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court held that officers violated the Fourth Amendment when they extended a traffic stop to wait for a drug-sniffing dog. The lower courts concluded that there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to extend the stop.  If either of those had been present, the extension would have been lawful  The Supreme Court did not deal with that issue. For more detail, see the Courts syllabus for the opinion at the link (“Absent reasonable suspicion, police extension of a traffic stop in order to conduct a dog sniff violates the Constitution’s shield  gainst unreasonable seizures”)

Thomas, Kennedy and Alito dissented. This is an issue that the Court had dodged for too long.  However, the finally came up with the correct decision.



  1. IMO, the police officer had a reasonable suspicion as evidenced by requesting the dog. Even though this was not part of the initial traffic stop. If Rodriguez didn't have the illicit drug in his vehicle, he would have gone on his merry way. For this reason, there was no violation of a fundamental liberty.

  2. This was case was more about sloppy police procedures.

  3. 44: Thanks for the comments. The case may be reheard again in the lower courts on the issue of the existence of reasonable suspicion or not. The Court only decided that in the apparent absence of r.s., the extended detention was unlawful.