A guide to exercising your legal rights in regard to K9 searches conducted during traffic stops.
K9 Searches are Mostly Legal
According to the Supreme Court ruling in ILLINOIS v. CABALLES [03-923], police have the legal right to conduct a K9 search on your vehicle if you were stopped for a legitimate crime, even a traffic violation like speeding.
When K9 Searches are Not Legal
Police may not use a K9 to search your vehicle without your permission or a warrant if there is no reasonable suspicion of a specific crime. If you are asked for permission to be searched, refuse. Ask what crime you are suspected of and what evidence of said crime the officer is basing his suspicions on. If there is none, ask if you are being detained or are free to go.
You Do Not Have To Wait
If you are pulled over, even for a legitimate traffic violation, police cannot detain you after they have served their citation. Therefore you do not have to wait for a K9 unit to respond if there is not one on the scene. Insist that the officer issue the citation in the normal amount of time and then after ask if you are being detained for reasonable suspicion of another crime. If the answer is no, you are free to go.
Film Your Interaction with Police
As always be sure to film your encounter with law enforcement and livestream it through a service like Cell 411 to protect yourself and the evidence you have recorded. Police will lie and bend their own rules, so if you end up in court you need to be able to illustrate that police violated your rights.
Be courteous, straightforward and maintain control of your statements, actions and emotions.
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