Florida Law for Traffic Stop and Dog Searches

This article is a continuation of US Supreme Court Rules Dog Sniff Detention Violated 4th Amendment, an article on the Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers website, which discusses the recent U.S. Supreme Court in Rodriguez v. State.

Traffic Stops Versus Unreasonable Detention

Jacksonville Illegal Car Search

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Dog Sniff Unreasonable During Traffic Stop

Police officers are permitted to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation. “Police are typically allowed to inspect a driver’s license, ask for registration and proof of insurance and check for any outstanding warrants as all of those actions are geared towards ensuring that vehicles are safely operated, according to [Justice] Ginsburg.” (The Free Thought Project) A dog sniff is not considered a routine measure for a traffic stop.

Note that this does not mean that police cannot detain a person if they have reasonable suspicion. This also does not mean that police cannot conduct a K-9 sniff during a traffic stop. There are different variables that can change the outcome of a case. This is something that the Jacksonville criminal lawyer handling the case must determine.

Florida Law for Dog Sniff Detentions and Searches

While the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Rodriguez is making headlines and being discussed among Jacksonville criminal attorneys, Florida courts have also decided cases involving detention of a driver for the purpose of a dog sniff. In Whitfield v. State, the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals discussed the law:

“There is no issue in the case concerning the propriety of the traffic stop. A traffic violation creates probable cause to stop the driver of a vehicle. See McNeil v. State, 656 So.2d 1320 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995). Once a vehicle is lawfully stopped, a law enforcement officer may conduct an investigation reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified the traffic stop. This investigation may include asking the driver for an operator’s license, insurance and registration. See State v. Robinson, 756 So.2d 249 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000). Also, the officer may run a computer check to determine whether the vehicle involved in the stop has been stolen and whether the driver has any outstanding warrants. See State v. Brooks, 662 So.2d 440, 440-41 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995) (Sharp, J., dissenting.). However, absent an articulable suspicion of criminal activity, the time an officer takes to issue a citation should last no longer than is necessary to make any required license or registration checks and to write the citation. Maxwell v. State, 785 So.2d 1277 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001) (citing Cresswell v. State, 564 So.2d 480 (Fla.1990)); Sands v. State, 753 So.2d 630 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000). See also Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405, 407, 125 S.Ct. 834, 160 L.Ed.2d 842 (2005). It is well established that the use of a narcotics dog to sniff a vehicle does not constitute a search and may be conducted during a consensual encounter or traffic stop. Caballes, 543 U.S. at 408-09, 125 S.Ct. 834. However, the canine search of the exterior of the vehicle must be completed within the time required to issue a citation. Eldridge v. State, 817 So.2d 884, 887 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002). If a properly trained police dog alerts to the presence of illegal drugs during this time period, the officer will have probable cause for a vehicle search. Id. Here, Trooper Barley stopped Whitfield’s vehicle for speeding and immediately indicated to Whitfield he was issuing him a written warning for excessive speed.” Whitfield v. State, 33 So. 3d 787, 790 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010)


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About Cynthia, 20 Miles Law

Cynthia Veintemillas

Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer Cynthia Veintemillas Photo

Cynthia Veintemillas is an experienced Florida attorney. She began her legal career at the public defender’s office in Jacksonville, Florida. Her primary practice fields include criminal defense, litigation, and family law. She has also represented many people facing foreclosure in Duval County, Clay County, and St. Johns County, Florida.

Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice

  • Florida, 2006
  • South Carolina, 2007
  • Middle District of Florida, 2009

Professional & Bar Association Memberships

  • Florida Bar 
Member Since: 2006
  • South Carolina 
Member Since: 2007
  • Jacksonville Bar 
Member Since: 2008
  • Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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