I propose the following addendums to Barry Cooper’s advice regarding consent searches in Never Get Busted Again Vol. 1: Traffic Stops. This information is intended to help those who have private items that aren’t well hidden, who are concerned that passengers may have stashed unknown items, or who have nothing to hide and wish to protect their 4th Amendment rights. I urge Barry Cooper to disseminate this information via his email list.
Flex Your Rights has eagerly anticipated Barry Cooper’s new video Never Get Busted Again: Vol.1 Traffic Stops, which finally arrived yesterday. After reviewing Cooper’s DVD, we’re disappointed to report that Never Get Busted badly misses the mark regarding consent searches.
We hope the following will not be interpreted as a rebuke of Cooper or his video, much of which we enjoyed. Still, we find it necessary to comment at length on his surprising advice.
Illinois v. Caballes
543 U.S. 405 (2005)
In Illinois vs. Caballes, the Supreme Court ruled that police do not need reasonable suspicion to use drug dogs to sniff a vehicle during a legitimate traffic stop.
This decision stems from the case of Roy Caballes, who was pulled over for speeding and subsequently arrested for marijuana trafficking after a drug dog was brought to the scene and alerted on his vehicle. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed his conviction, finding that a drug sniff was unreasonable without evidence of a crime other than speeding.
In a 6-2 ruling, the Court held that the Fourth Amendment is not implicated when police use a dog sniff during the course of a legal traffic stop. Justice Stevens wrote the Opinion of the Court, finding that since dog sniffs only identify the presence of illegal items — in which citizens have no legitimate privacy interest — the Fourth Amendment does not apply to their use. Justices Souter and Ginsburg dissented, pointing to studies showing that drug dogs frequently return false positives (12.5-60% of the time, according to one study).
What this ruling means: