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Drug cases can be remarkably complex, and that’s why you really need a knowledgeable Oklahoma drug attorney, to really help you win your case. Drug traffic stop and search cases can be especially complicated. If you have been arrested for drugs on the road and a drug sniffing dog was involved, you probably want to know what rules and regulations officers have to follow.

Traffic Stops and Reasonable Suspicion

Right before searching an automobile, the officer must absolutely have what is identified as probable cause, meaning that their belief that a crime has occurred should be supported by evidence. The evidence would be physical, details from witnesses, or the officer’s own observations, but must go beyond mere suspicion. In fact, the preliminary hearing is referred to as “probable cause hearing,” and is specifically made to review the evidence for any probable cause scenarios.

In these proceedings, it will be verified if the officer had probable cause, the belief that a crime transpired or was occurring, or reasonable suspicion, giving the officer the right to apprehend and inspect the suspect. But really, neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion is required to call on a drug sniffing dog to the scene during a routine traffic stop. This was established by the Supreme Court in Illinois v. Caballes, in which Roy Caballes was pulled over for speeding and subsequently arrested for marijuana trafficking after a drug dog was brought to the scene and alerted on his vehicle.

In a 6-2 ruling, the Court sided with the state, with Justice John Paul Stevens writing that drug sniffing dog searches did not violate Fourth Amendment rights. He felt that the expectation of privacy did not extend to illegal narcotics. In this case, any positive signal may be considered probable cause to perform a search. If the drug dog signals that it smells drugs, the arresting officer then has probable cause to conduct a search.

You do, nonetheless, have some proper protection in this scenario; for instance, an officer cannot detain you indefinitely, or even for an unreasonable amount of time while waiting for the drug dog to arrive. Simply speaking, if the arresting officer can not produce the drug dog to the scene in the time it takes to run your tags and write a ticket, the utilization of the dog becomes constitutionally suspect.

So if you’re pulled over and the officer threatens to call in the K-9 unit, you are not obligated to say yes to searches. While waiting on the dog to appear, you likewise have the right to establish if it is appropriate for you to leave by directly asking if you are free to go. If the officer declines and goes ahead to detain you until the dogs appear, you have the right to remain silent and proceed to refuse to consent to a dog sniff, even if the officer says you need to consent.

You should be aware that opening your car for the officer or turning over your keys is the same as consent. If a judge decides that the officer had no reason to detain you, any evidence discovered by the drug dog may perhaps be tossed out in court.

The Reliability of Drug Sniffing Dogs

For literally thousands of years, dogs have been used by human beings for their extraordinary sense of smell, as their noses contain more than 200 million receptors (compared to the 10 million humans possess). Several breeds even have the impressive ability to detect certain scents of objects which are fully submerged in water, which is very essential for law enforcement since drug smugglers frequently try and hide the smell of drugs with some other substance.

This is not to say that a dog’s sense of smell is infallible, and the accuracy of many a drug sniffing dog has been called into question in court. The American Society of Canine Trainers (ASCT) even admits to the surprisingly poor accuracy rates of drug sniffing dogs, pointing out averages as low as 62 % (Current Searches, 2015).

There are many reasons and variables for this staggeringly low accuracy rate. At times a trained drug dog’s nose is even too strong, and may lead to the detection of trace scents left behind by drugs which are no longer actually present. It should also be taken into consideration that there is a significant difference between what a dog can do, versus what a dog actually does. What the dog actually does is almost completely dependent on the training received, for which there are no required national standards for certification. Furthermore, regardless of how effective or ineffective a dog may really be, it is capable of acting on its own behalf and as a result, it may be nearly impossible to ascertain the motivation for any particular response.

Certainly we would like to believe that these animals are selfless and devoted to satisfying their handlers, yet that in itself could be problematic. Dog handlers can unintentionally cue alerts from their dogs by leading them too slowly or too many times around an automobile.

Contact Omaha Drug Attorney

Never assume that just because police are in a position of power, they are always right.  If you feel you were subjected to an unlawful drug search, you deserve to have the matter investigated by an experienced Omaha drug attorney.

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