Police Can Search If Dog Smells Drugs, High Court Says

Feb 20, 2013

A police dog’s sniff is reason enough for officers to search a person’s car or house, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court’s ruling reverses a Florida Supreme Court decision about a traffic stop in Liberty County.

Liberty County Officer William Wheetley was stopping a man in 2006, when Aldo, his German shepherd, indicated he smelled drugs. Wheetley searched the vehicle and arrested the man for having meth-making ingredients. But the Florida court had ruled the evidence should be suppressed because the dog’s sniff was not probable cause for a search.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said, she’s happy the Supreme Court reversed that ruling.

“I spoke with all our sheriffs yesterday, and they were extremely pleased with the outcome," she said. "It could have had a chilling effect on law enforcement investigations and the detection of illegal drugs throughout our country.”

The high court’s unanimous decision essentially says, trained drug-sniffing dogs should be trusted in court without the need for additional evidence leading to a search.