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Note To Lead-Footed Drug Traffickers: Keep It At Or Just Below 65

By Sam Bakken in News on Jan 24, 2005 8:27PM

In November we sniffed-out and alerted you to a case (ruled one of the most important of this session by the Chicago Tribune) accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court. The crux of the case was whether a dog sniffing a car during a routine traffic stop, where there is no suspicion of criminal activity (what dem snooty lah-yer types call probable cause), is an unreasonable search and seizure and violates the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court released their 6-2 decision today saying it is not and does not.

From the decision's head note:

"A dog sniff conducted during a concededly lawful traffic stop that reveals no information other than the location of a substance that no individual has any right to possess does not violate the Fourth Amendment."

1_2005_marijuana.jpgThis whole thing stems from a 1998 traffic stop right here in Illinois. An Illinois State Trooper pulled Roy Caballes over for speeding on I-80 (71 in a 65) and during the stop the trooper noticed air freshener in the car and asked for permission to search Caballes's car. Caballes refused and the trooper began writing a warning ticket. A second trooper overheard the first trooper's radio transmission at the beginning of the stop, brought his drug detecting dog to the scene and walked it around Caballes' car. The dog indicated there were drugs in the trunk and there the troopers found $250,000 worth of Mary Jane.

Caballes was convicted on drug trafficking charges and got 12 years in the pen. Caballes appealed saying the evidence of marijuana is his trunk should have been suppressed because it was found when the troopers expanded the scope of the stop. He lost the appeal, but the Illinois Supreme Court overturned it, siding with Caballes. Illinois then submitted the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, they heard arguments (argued for Illinois by our own Attorney General Lisa Madigan) and overturned the ruling.

1_2005_airfreshener.jpgSo, we should all take three important lessons away from this case.

  1. When running drugs do not speed

  2. Choose one: "new car scent" or marijuana in your trunk—never both.

  3. Dog is NOT man's best friend. Dog IS a narc.