Question: (1) Does a peace officer’s use of a drug-detection dog prolong the time necessary to complete a traffic stop? (2) Can a dog’s reliability be established so that his positive alert is sufficient probable cause to search? (3) Does a drug-detection dog’s alert allow a peace officer to search anywhere in the vehicle? (4) May a peace officer arrest a suspect based on what’s discovered during the search, even if the evidence has no relation to the drug-detection dog’s alert?
Quick answer: (1) No, in most cases, but it also depends on the facts and circumstances of the traffic stop. (2) Yes, an officer’s testimony as to a dog’s training and certification may establish the reliability of the dog. (3) Yes, under current federal law, a drug-detection dog’s alert provides probable cause to search every part of the vehicle and all containers within it. (4) Yes, if the officer has knowledge and reasonably trustworthy information to believe that the suspect has committed a crime.