Monday, February 03, 2014

Send Me A Dawg!

We were discussing this just the other day.  The scenario is simple; I or one of my brethren pull over a vehicle for a routine traffic stop.  Something simple, like a broken tail light.  During the course of the stop, we have a hunch that illicit drugs are being transported in the vehicle.  The Supreme Court says that we can detain a motorist for a reasonable time, and when I'm in such a situation, my first instint is to get on the radio and have the dispatcher send me a dog, a trained police K9 with a handler to conduct a sniff-test around the vehicle.

So, if I have to wait on the dog to come to me, and I can hold a driver for a "reasonable period of time", the question becomes; What's reasonable?  Luckily, we have the internets to answer such questions and lawyers to ponder those questions.  It seems that the esteemed Orin Kerr has tackled the question and provides us with a "sorta" answer.
But as of yesterday, the simple (if simplistic) answer to the question might have unusual mathematical precision, at least if you accept the lower court cases as correct. The Constitution allows the police to extend the stop without suspicion for eight minutes, but not a minute longer.
You can go to the link for the full answer, but it seems that one Court has held that eight minutes is reasonable, but nine minutes is unreasonable.  That sounds reasonable to me.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Obviously NOT a rural area...