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Supreme Court to Decide if K-9s Allowed on Routine Stops

November 11, 2004  | 

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide if using a drug-sniffing dog on a minor traffic stop is considered unreasonable search and seizure.

“While dog sniffs are not physically invasive, they do intrude on reasonable privacy interests,” says Ralph Meczyk, a Chicago lawyer, in his brief to the court. “Using a drug dog during an otherwise routine stop can be intimidating, accusatory, and humiliating.

Roy Caballes was pulled over in 1998 for driving 71mph in a 65mph zone. While the first Illinois State Police trooper looked over Caballes’ license and registration, a second trooper used his drug dog to find marijuana in the driver’s trunk. Caballes was arrested and found guilty of marijuana trafficking. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $256,136, deemed the street value of the drugs.

Meczyk, Caballes’ lawyer, has carried his appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

The justices must decide whether a valid road stop is enough to warrant the use of a drug-sniffing K-9.

A decision in the case, Illinois v. Caballes, is expected by next June.

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