Traffic Stop; Reasonable Suspicion; Consent; Entry by PSD into Vehicle; Prolonged Detention
Traffic stop for signal violation (as well as other squirrely behavior). Subject was driving a rental car and gave a story that was nonsensical and that didn’t square with LE observations. Driver was also extremely nervous. Driver consented to PSD sniffing the outside of the vehicle. PSD almost immediately ran to half open window and jumped in, getting stuck. Handler assisted PSD to go all the way in to prevent injury to PSD and the vehicle. PSD alerted (no further info) to back seat. PSD removed from interior and taken around vehicle; alerted (no further) to trunk.
The court held that LE had additional information that amounted to reasonable suspicion, which extended the time for the investigation beyond that of a traffic stop (driver’s nonsensical story, the fact that he was on a drug corridor, he was extremely nervous and the car had a lived-in look, consistent with long haul trafficking). Subject did not challenge his consent to allow the PSD to sniff the exterior of the vehicle and the court held that the later exterior sniff by the PSD provided the probable cause to search the vehicle. Finally, and alternatively, the court held that the entry into the vehicle was not a search because it was instinctual by PSD and not facilitated or encouraged by LE.