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Supreme Court Rules Traffic Stops Can't Be Extended for Drug-Sniffing Dogs

The U.S. Supreme Court, 6-3, has ruled that police can't prolong traffic stops in order to await the arrival of drug-sniffing dogs to inspect motor vehicles, The New York Times' Adam Liptak reports: "'“A police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures,'" Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote for the majority.

The Nebraska defendant had his traffic stop delayed by eight minutes after he got a written warning for driving on the shoulder of a state highway. The court's ruling means that the large bag of methamphetamine found in the defendant's car could be suppressed if a lower court does not find that there was reasonable suspicion to prolong the traffic stop.

In separate dissents, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court's new rule is not workable, and Justice Samuel Alito wrote that police officers will now make sure to issue tickets or warnings as the last step during traffic stops.