In Florida versus Harris US Supreme Court Magnifies the Use of Drug Dogs during Automobile Traffic Stops

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K-9 Officer William Wheetley, of the Liberty County Florida’s Sheriff’s Office was on routine patrol with Aldo, a German shepherd trained detection dog, June 24, 2006. While on patrol with Aldo Wheetley pulled over the defendant’s truck for an expired license plate violation. Wheetley testified that the defendant was “visibly nervous” when he approached the vehicle. Wheetley also observed an open container of beer in the truck’s cup holder. Harris refused to give consent for Wheetley to search the truck. At this point Wheetley walked Aldo around the exterior of Harris’ truck. Aldo signaled that he smelled drugs in the area of the driver’s side door handle. Based on Aldo’s alert, Wheetley searched the truck. While the search did not turn up any of the drugs that Aldo was trained to detect it did reveal 200 loose Pseudoephedrine pills, 8,000 matches and miscellaneous other ingredients used for making methamphetamine. Harris was arrested and charged with possession of materials used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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