Q: First let me say that I love your column. Here is my question. Let’s say I get pulled over because my brake light was out. The officer informs me of the problem and issues a warning only. Then the officer asks if he or she can go get the K-9 unit they are training out of the car to do a drug sniff as part of the training process. I’m in a hurry to get to work. Can I say no? And if I do, is that probable cause to search my vehicle? Also, are civilians allowed to pet K-9s?
A: Well, let me first say thank you for liking the column. It has been going strong for over 12 years now, believe it or not.
In regards to not allowing the K-9 to search your vehicle the answer to your question is, yes. You can tell an officer that you don’t want to have them run a dog around your vehicle once the stop is complete. That usually entails that you have been given back your driver’s license and other paperwork.
The officer can have a K-9 do a sniff search while you are being detained but that search can’t take longer than a routine traffic stop would take. This is most often done with another K-9 officer using the dog while the officer who made the stop doing the traffic stop routine of checking your driving status and/or writing out a ticket(s).
Your refusal to not allow the K-9 to perform a drug sniff does not give probable cause to detain you any longer at that point. This could change however if walking back to your vehicle a K-9 did indicate on your vehicle. This has been determined to be an exception to a warrantless search as a dogs indicating does count towards a plain view search.
As far as petting the K-9, some K-9 officers don’t like to have their dogs touched by civilians and some do. The best answer I can give you as far as petting a K-9 is to ask that K-9’s officer.
Just to add, K-9’s are also counted as police officers and deserve the full police funeral recognition when they lose their lives in the line of duty.
Joke time (been awhile)
A father in a hurry, taking his 8-year-old son to school, made a turn at a red light, where it wasn’t allowed.
Dad: “Uh-oh, I just made an illegal turn!”
Son “That’s OK, Dad, The police car right behind us did the same thing.”
Please put these officers, killed in the line of duty, and their families in your prayers. They fought the good fight, now may they rest in peace. God bless these heroes.
Deputy Sheriff Tony Hinostroza, Stanislaus County Sheriff, California
Deputy U.S. Marshal Chase White, United States Marshals Service
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