Dog sniff during traffic stop did not violate Constitution

January 29, 2016

The time it took for the police pup to arrive and sniff around a vehicle did not unreasonably prolong the traffic stop in violation a driver’s Constitutional rights, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

Jason Hansbrough challenged his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon after a canine search of his SUV discovered a handgun. During a bench trial, he argued the evidence obtained from the dog sniff should be excluded because the wait for the canine unit to arrive prolonged the traffic stop in violation of his Fourth Amendment protections.

When Hansbrough was pulled over for following another vehicle too closely, the officer noticed trace amounts of marijuana inside the SUV. The Fishers Police officer took Hansbrough’s license, registration and insurance information then radioed for the canine unit to come to the scene.

As the officer was checking on outstanding warrants, the dog arrived and sniffed in and around the vehicle. The Court of Appeals noted the canine unit arrived 16 minutes after Hansbrough was pulled over and the officer testified he had not completed his paperwork in that time.

Hansbrough countered that accepting the officer’s testimony could induce officers to slow down their processes in order to allow time for the canine to arrive.

“We acknowledge the legitimacy of his concerns,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “Nevertheless, the (Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1609, 1612 (2015)) court observed that the reasonable diligence on the part of the police can only be gauged ‘by noting what the officer actually did and how he did it.’”

The case is Jason Hansbrough v. State of Indiana, 29A04-1508-CR-1121.



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