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Dog Sniffs and the 4th Amendment

When is a Dog Sniff a Search Under the Fourth?

Dog sniffs raise interesting 4th Amendment legal analysis. Regular human senses don't automatically violate the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the Court has allowed the use of some sense-enhancing devices, such as flashlights. However, the use of other more sophisticated sense-enhancing devices crosses the line and becomes a search. You can probably see the issue then with a dog. Their senses are not regular human senses and can be viewed as a search.

As a DUI Defense lawyer, one of the most pertinent legal analysis to make, is when the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution applies. Alas, if there was an illegal search and seizure, all the "evidence" obtained is suppressed. This means, the police and the prosecutor have much less to proceed to trial with. If I can show the judge that the initial stop was a violation of my client's Fourth Amendment, then we pretty much win. While a DUI usually doesn't involve dogs sniffing for things, sometimes dogs are employed. Sometimes this leads to drugs or other items being found. The Supreme Court has allowed these kind of dog sniffs. Fortunately, The Florida Supreme Court has distinguished the search of a car from a home. Rightfully so, the Supreme Court has placed more protections for a person's home. That case decision can be read here.