Traffic Stop Delayed for Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

Traffic Stop Delayed for Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

Traffic stops once again garnered the attention of the nation’s highest court this week. In Rodriguez v. United States, SCOTUS threw out the conviction of a motorist whose traffic stop was delayed so the officer could have a dog sniff the car for drugs. By finding the delay in the traffic stop unconstitutional, SCOTUS dimmed the green light given police ten years ago in Illinois v. Caballes and limited the ability of cops to prolong detentions without facts to back them up. The 2005 Caballes Traffic Stop Decision Caballes had held that the Fourth Amendment does not require an officer to have a reasonable suspicion of drugs before having a drug-sniffing dog sniff a car. The canine investigation does not in and of itself make an otherwise lawful stop unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the dog sniff could not violate the Fourth Amendment because there was no possibility of protected activity being searched. (That is, the dog sniff revealed no information except the location of a substance no individual has a right to possess.) Caballes did not address the length of the detention because the Court “accept[ed] the state court’s conclusion that the duration of the stop in this case was entirely justified by the traffic offense and the ordinary inquiries incident to such a stop.” This factor is important because Caballes never had to address the situation where the dog sniff actually does prolong the initial traffic stop beyond what it would have taken otherwise. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting in Caballes, objected that any roadside investigation  must be limited in scope to the circumstances which justified the Fourth Amendment interference in the first place. In her...

CHP Officer accused of stealing nude photos during suspect’s booking

By  Laura Anthony Thursday, October 23, 2014 08:24PM MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) — Bay Area CHP Officer Sean Harrington is accused of stealing nude cell phone pictures from a DUI suspect’s phone while she was being booked into the County Jail in Martinez. There is now evidence that other officers may also have been involved, and that possible criminal charges may be filed. “She’s tremendously distraught,” said Rick Madsen, the attorney for the young woman pulled over by Officer Harrington. He claims his client has been traumatized by this invasion of her privacy. “We don’t know at this point, although we’re gratified by the extent of the investigation by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office, the extent to which they’ve been transmitted, either to other individuals perhaps other law enforcement officers” said Madsen. Madsen says the incident happened in August. The 23-year-old woman was pulled over by the Dublin-based Harrington on Interstate 680, near the Crow Canyon Road exit. She was taken into custody for a suspected DUI and then transported to the main jail in Martinez. It’s there that Madsen alleges Officer Harrington transmitted nude photos of the woman from her phone to his. “He asked for her password in order for her to get a phone number for her to call somebody. During that time he went through her private photos and transmitted as many as six to his own private cell phone,” claims Madsen. The Contra Costa District Attorney’s office is deciding whether to press criminal charges against Harrington. In the meantime, the 35-year-old Harrington has reportedly been taken off the street and put on desk duty...

California: Court Slams Cops Over Bogus Camera Stop

Female motorist can sue police who held her at gunpoint after automated license plate reader mistakes her Lexus sedan for a stolen pickup. An innocent woman forced to her knees, held at gunpoint, handcuffed and surrounded by multiple San Francisco, California police officers can proceed with her lawsuit for false arrest. The Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that the officers were potentially liable for using excessive force against Denise Green after an automated license plate reader (ALPR or ANPR in Europe) mistakenly flagged her vehicle as stolen. On March 30, 2009, a camera mounted on a police car on Mission Street took a blurry photo of Green’s burgundy Lexus ES300 which the automated system confused for a stolen gray GMC pickup truck. After being alerted to the “hit” over the radio, San Francisco Police Sergeant Ja Han Kim saw Green’s car pass by. He neither confirmed the license plate number on the car nor the make and model of the stolen vehicle. Instead, he called for backup and initiated a high-risk felony stop. Green, a 47-year-old black woman, was held for twenty minutes before one of the six officers got around to checking her license plate. Green sued for false arrest, but a federal district granted the officers immunity. The appellate judges disagreed, finding evidence of negligence. San Francisco Police Department policy recognizes ALPR readings are often faulty. Officers are supposed to verify the vehicle and the license plate before performing any stop. Sergeant Kim thought the camera squad car would have performed the verification, and the camera car driver, Officer Alberto Esparza, thought the...

Forced catheterization alleged; suit says cops wanted quicker urine sample after traffic stop

Posted May 13, 2014 6:56 AM CDT By Debra Cassens Weiss An Indiana man has filed a federal lawsuit alleging police and hospital officials subjected him to a forced catheterization because he didn’t provide a urine sample quickly enough after a traffic stop. William Clark of Crown Point says in the suit that a Schererville police officer held him down while hospital personnel at Franciscan St. Margaret Mercy Health inserted a catheter, NWI.com reports. Clark says the officer pulled over his car last May on the belief that Clark was driving erratically. The officer falsely claimed that Clark’s breath test result was .11, and the town never provided proof of the test result during discovery, the suit alleges. When Clark submitted to a blood test at the hospital, the blood alcohol was within the legal limit, according to the suit. The suit seeks $11 million plus punitive...

Despite law, vehicles often not impounded in repeat DUI cases

Law allows officers to impound vehicles of some repeat offenders SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —The financial burden that comes with getting a vehicle out of impound is one of the ways the state of California hopes to deter drunken driving. California law states that the car of anyone driving under the influence in the past 10 years who is pulled over on suspicion of DUI can be impounded. Watch report: Vehicles often not impounded in repeat DUI cases But a KCRA 3 investigation found the law isn’t used often. KCRA 3 obtained the number of vehicles impounded for repeat DUI offenders from several Northern California police departments. Many departments have not impounded a single car in the last four years, including Stockton, Roseville and Folsom. Modesto has impounded fewer than five. The city of Sacramento, however, has impounded 106. KCRA 3 also asked departments to provide data on how many repeat DUI offenders qualified for impound because they were arrested during the 10-year time period. The Roseville Police Department, which was they only agency to provide data, said officers had arrested 20 such drivers in the last four years. None of those drivers had their cars impounded. Other agencies, including Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto police departments, said they did not have the records available. The Stockton Police Department, meanwhile, told KCRA 3, “Officers do not typically know about prior DUI arrests or other criminal histories when making decisions about whether to impound a vehicle.” The majority of other departments said they either didn’t have any data, or couldn’t collect the data. One of the biggest departments in Northern California, San...

CDOT Launches New Campaign to Target Marijuana Impaired Driving

CDOT Launches New Campaign to Target Marijuana Impaired Driving Drive High, Get a DUI STATEWIDE—Colorado made history this year by becoming the first state to sell marijuana to anyone over the age of 21. At a press conference this afternoon, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) made history again by announcing the launch of an education campaign targeted at drivers about the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana. In 2012, there were 630 drivers involved in 472 motor vehicle fatalities on Colorado roadways. Of the 630 drivers involved, 286 were tested for drugs. Nearly 27 percent of drivers tested had a positive drug test, with 12 percent testing positive for cannabis. The official kick-off of CDOT’s new Drive High, Get a DUI campaign includes a series of television commercials that will air during shows targeting males between the ages 21-34, who tend to have the highest number of DUIs. There will also be widespread outreach to rental car companies and dispensaries to inform tourists and marijuana users about marijuana driving laws in Colorado. “Before beginning the campaign, we did extensive research about medical and recreational marijuana users’ perceptions of marijuana’s effects on driving,” said Amy Ford, CDOT Communications Director. “We heard repeatedly that people thought marijuana didn’t impact their driving ability, and some believed it actually made them a better driver. The Drive High, Get a DUI campaign takes a neutral stance on legalization, and will focus awareness efforts on impaired driving laws in Colorado.” In September 2013, CDOT conducted a phone survey of 770 Coloradans on their attitudes and behaviors related to marijuana and driving. About two-thirds of marijuana users...