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SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Protection Against Traffic Stop Drug Searches

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling in favor of greater protection for citizens under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. In a 6-3 ruling, the justices ruled it was unconstitutional for officers to extend a routine traffic stop into a search for narcotics through the use of drug-sniffing dogs unless they have an independent reason to do so, outside of the basis for the traffic stop.

The justices who supported the ruling argued that the need for the traffic stop ends once the tasks related to the specific infraction are completed. By prolonging the stop through the use of drug-sniffing dogs, officers may step outside of the probable cause. To justify the use of a drug-sniffing canine, officers would have had to find an independent reason for their suspicion while conducting the stop. Otherwise, they have no basis for the search.

The ruling is good news for individuals who regularly see their rights infringed upon, as officers commonly prolong their traffic stops and conduct searches without good reason. Until the Supreme Court decided on this case, law enforcement officers were able to extend traffic stops far beyond the basis of the original infraction. In some cases, these stops have led to arrests for drug possession and mandatory incarceration.

However, although the ruling is good news for those advocating for greater protections under the Fourth Amendment, many people are unaware of their rights. Despite the fact that it’s illegal, officers occasionally push the boundaries and conduct illegal searches and seizures. Any evidence collected during these illegal searches should be thrown out if the case goes to trial.

If you have been arrested for drug possession in connection with a traffic stop, you may be able to assert that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated. To learn more, meet with a skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman today.

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