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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Patrick Stegal of the Memphis Defense Attorney Blog, which I highly recommend, has posted some tips for avoiding a narcotics detector dog search. He reminds us that once a police officer has finished with a routine traffic stop you are under no obligation to stick around and answer any questions:

"... if a motorist has been stopped for speeding, a dog sniff could legally be performed by one officer while another is writing the ticket. Or the officer who made the stop could run a sniff while waiting for a check for warrants. This could take fifteen minutes or more. Plenty of time to get the dog out and about, or to even wait for another one to be brought in. However, if the stop is finished the officer, without additional suspicion, cannot prolong the stop to have a dog brought in. They cannot buy time, and they cannot ask additional questions not related to the stop."
Former police officer, Barry Cooper, has said in his video Never Get Busted Vol. 1 Traffic Stops, once the officer hands you ticket the Supreme Court has ruled that you are then free to leave. If the police officer continues to talk to you or ask you questions, politely ask if you are free to leave. If he/she persists, then ask if you are being detained, "Officer, am I being detained?" If he says "yes", then shut your mouth until you can call Patrick or another criminal defense attorney.

Its important that you don't try to chit-chat, what you say will be used against you. People lie to police officers all day long and they are used to it, so even if you're telling the truth there's a good chance they won't believe you. Remember to always stay calm, courteous, and respectful. Remember, you won't ever win an argument with a police officer and loosing your cool can land you in serious trouble.

For more on how to handle traffic stops watch Never Get Busted Vol. 1 Traffic Stops, and visit

Here's my take on the use of narcotic detector dogs.