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Supreme Court Rules that Police Officers Can’t Extend Traffic Stops

The Supreme Court ruled this week that officers who extend traffic stops in order to wait for drug sniffing dogs are in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The ruling stems from a case where an officer pulled over a motorist for driving erratically, questioned the driver and the passenger, and then issued a written warning. The police officer then had his drug sniffing dog search around the vehicle, at which point it found methamphetamine. Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg wrote in the majority that by conducting the search after the driver was issued the written warning, which was determined to be the conclusion of the routine traffic stop, the police officer violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable search and seizures.

This ruling may now have an effect on how police officers conduct traffic stops, such as when the stop is legally concluded. The amount of time needed to conduct a traffic stop may also become a concern.

What are your thoughts on this ruling? Is conducting a search after a traffic ticket or warning is issued truly a violation of the Fourth Amendment?

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