The Use of Drug Sniffing Dogs

drug sniffing dog search

The Use of Drug Sniffing Dogs


The use of a drug sniffing dog by law enforcement is one of the key tools in a police officers arsenal. A drug dog sniff allows the police to quickly decide whether a person or a car is carrying drugs, guns, or any other illegal substance.

Is the Use of a Drug Sniffing Dog a Search?

Even though the police are able to tell what someone is carrying or has in their car, the United States Supreme Court has held that an alert by a drug sniffing dog is not a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the police are able to walk a drug detection dog around the exterior of a car without violating a person’s constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court reasoned that the use of a drug sniffing dog is not a search because drug dog sniff only occurs on the exterior of a vehicle and it does not require the police to enter the car. The use of a drug sniffing dog is not a search because the drug dog sniff doesn’t disclose any information other than the presence or absence of narcotics.

When Can the Police Use a a Drug Sniffing Dog?

The police may use a drug detection dog only if the drug sniffing dog is “well-trained.” The use of the drug sniffing dog cannot change the change the character of the stop, which means that the police stop cannot be extended or prolonged for the police to bring a drug sniffing dog on to the scene. The police are able to use a drug sniffing dog without probable cause if it takes place within a valid stop and if it is conducted in a reasonable manner. However, to extend a police stop to bring a drug sniffing dog onto the scene requires the police to act with probable cause.

The police can also order you to do things to aide the drug sniffing dog when it is making an exterior sniff of your vehicle. The courts have held that the police can order a driver to roll up his or her windows and turn the blower on high before using a drug sniffing dog.


The use of drug sniffing dog is a tool that police love to use because it does not violate your Fourth Amendment rights when used properly. An alert by a well-trained drug sniffing dog is more than sufficient probable cause to search your car. When the police do use a drug sniffing dog it must be used correctly and it cannot unreasonably extend your interaction with the police.

Jaleel Law P.C. has the experience to guide you successfully through your criminal or DUI case. We have fought on behalf of clients who have been subjected to a search by a drug sniffing dog. If you have been arrested in Chicago, Maywood, Bridgeview, Markham, Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Du Page, Lake, Will, or Kendall Counties contact us today to discuss how our know-how can help you fight your case.