Would you be surprised to know that an officer is permitted to let his drug sniffing animal search around your car when you are stopped for a routine traffic infraction? According to both Federal and Indiana state law, an officer does not need to have any suspicion of illegal activity to allow a drug sniffing dog to walk around your vehicle and sniff to see if it alerts for illegal substances in drug cases.
The United States Supreme Court has stated that an officer does not need to have any suspicion at all to conduct a search of the perimeter of a vehicle with a drug sniffing dog, as long as the duration of the stop is not extended beyond the time it takes to issue a ticket and conduct inquiries that are ordinary to any vehicle stop. The only obstacle officers face in having a dog sniff around a vehicle is they cannot extend the duration of the stop.
So, is it ok then for the officer to take your information, return to his car with that information, and then have his dog search around your vehicle before he has written a ticket? A recent Indiana Court of appeals decision says no. In State v. Molly Gray, the Court of Appeals ruled that an officer who had stopped a young woman for a traffic violation unconstitutionally extended the stop when he gathered her information, put it in his vehicle, then proceeded to walk the dog around her car, and eventually found evidence to charge her with drug possession. The Court of Appeals found that this was an impermissible extension of the routine traffic stop, and since the officer did not have any suspicion of other wrongdoing, the evidence obtained should be thrown out. The law firm of Arnold, Terrill, Anzini is here to protect you from overzealous officers, and their snooping animals as well.