Police officers violate the Constitution when they extend an otherwise completed traffic stop to allow time for a trained dog to sniff for drugs, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.
The justices, voting 6-3, said that officers must let the driver leave unless they have specific reasons to suspect the car is carrying contraband.
Police authority “ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are — or reasonably should have been — completed,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority.
The ruling is a victory for Dennys Rodriguez, who was facing a five-year prison sentence for carrying a bag of methamphetamine in his car in 2012.
Rodriguez was stopped on a Nebraska highway for driving out of his lane and made to wait an additional seven or eight minutes for a drug-sniffing dog after he had received a warning ticket for the traffic violation.