United States v. Ingram (Florida 2020) 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195066

Traffic Stop; Prolonged Detention; Alert as Probable Cause; Collective Knowledge Doctrine; Reliability Foundation

During a drug trafficking investigation, subjects were identified as members of the organization. LE had information that subjects were going to make another interstate run to pick up drugs in a rental car. LE, including two PSD teams, surveilled subjects and then directed a marked unit to conduct a traffic stop. While that officer checked on licenses and rental car information, subjects were removed from the vehicle while a PSD team conducted a sniff. One of the subjects appeared to be wanting to run or fight. LE who conducted the stop saw this behavior and got out of his cruiser and stood by with the subjects while the PSD team worked. PSD alerted either during or after dispatch returned with the information that the licenses and rental contract were clear. Cash and drugs were found in the vehicle.

The appellate court held that the stop for speeding was valid. In addition, ordering subjects out of the vehicle was legal under Maryland v. Wilson (Maryland 1997) 519 U.S. 408, 415. Finally, the appellate court held that the stop was not prolonged, because the sniff took place during the first LE’s attempts to check on the licenses and the rental car (10 to 15 minutes). There was no evidence that the subjects were detained beyond the time that the tasks tied to the traffic infraction would have otherwise been concluded had the dog sniff not occurred. In addition, the court held that even if the stop had been prolonged, LE had reasonable suspicion of additional wrongdoing. The court cited the long and intensive investigation already conducted by LE prior to the stop as well as information developed during LE’s investigation of this particular drug run. Consequently, the collective knowledge of all LE involved in the operation is considered in determining whether there was reasonable suspicion to extend the traffic stop, and the court found that LE had more than sufficient basis to know that the subjects were involved in drug trafficking. Finally, the court found that, in spite of subject’s objections, there was no evidence that the PSD was inadequately trained, cued or manipulated into an alert or that other circumstances negated the reliability of the PSD’s alert.