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Five Tips to Protect Your Rights During a Traffic Stop

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

August 7, 2015

In a 6-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court found that using dogs specifically for a traffic stop was illegal. In fact, using K-9’s as part of a routine traffic stop was never originally part of a traffic officer’s mission.

The decision came about from a 2012 case of a man who was pulled over after swerving to miss running over a pothole. The officer took an ordinate amount of time—about 21 minutes—to complete the steps of the step. The driver was later asked to allow his dog to take a walk around the vehicle, and he refused. The officer then forced the man to leave his car. One bag of methamphetamine was later discovered, and the driver plead guilty to possession charges.

The outcome was later appealed in consideration that the action taken by the arresting officer was illegal. Now, that is, in fact true, thanks to the recent ruling.

The problem with the passage of laws is that many officers are not always informed about the changes in the laws. Our Daytona Beach criminal defense lawyers offer some advice to ensure that you are on top of the laws and you protect yourself as best as possible if an officer decides to pull you over.

1. You have the right to remain silent.

You do not have to say anything to the officer. They are looking for any excuse to arrest someone and are trained to be aware of any suspicious activity. Any information you volunteer can be used against you if a case goes to trial, for example.

2. You do not have to allow a search of your vehicle.

Search and seizures are not usually allowed; now that there are laws protecting citizens from dog-sniff searches as well, this is further added protection. Be calm when engaging with the officer and do not appear as though you are trying to hide or dispose of something. This will only draw more attention to yourself.

3. Dog sniffing is not part of the protocol.

Part of the “officer’s mission” is to perform the tasks that are routinely apart of a traffic stop: verify that the driver is carrying insurance, the vehicle is properly registered, and scan for any warrants for that person. An officer will also typically ask for the driver’s license before proceeding. Using dog-sniffing is not a routine part of the procedure.

4. Officers cannot purposely stall a traffic stop.

Another reasoning that officers use to defend their tactics is that officers should be able to conduct all of the above tasks within a reasonable amount of time. Completing them too quickly does not “buy time” to allow for dog-sniffing or other procedures.

5. Officers cannot call for backup after a citation has been issued.

In the amount of time it takes to issue a citation, officers should not have to call for nor rely on a backup unit of K-9’s to execute a dog-sniff for a routine traffic stop. This is not only illegal, it takes up an inordinate amount of time.

Accused of a crime during a traffic stop? Did an officer behave unlawfully? You have rights! Protect them and call Hager & Schwartz, P.A. for assistance.