percussivepaul wrote:I know you're enjoying the high horse, but I heard of and saw several stops for obstructed plates which were followed by searches with drug dogs. I'm fairly certain the police don't have the right to bring drug dogs after you for a traffic violation. I heard anecdotes and one firsthand story of people explicitly refusing a search and having drug dogs come anyway. 'Obstructed plate' could apply to any car with a bike rack on it or even a bit of mud on the plate; it's not quite 'no reason at all' but it's an abnormally restrictive interpretation of the traffic law. I have an issue with cars being pulled over on this charge and then being searched with drug dogs without consent.
How do you know that these other people were not also ignorant or stupid enough to confess and/or agree to a search?
If it happened to your friends, it could happen to other people too.Your friends' case in particular went down like this: They got pulled over for obstructed plates. Officers automatically--because they were talking to a burner--said they would like to search the vehicle. Your friends said they refuse, and stated that the police need probable cause to search. Cops said they don't need probable cause to sniff with dogs.Analysis:
Going fine until your friends continued the conversation by stating that there is a need for probable cause. That gave the police a foot in the door to keep talking and keep pressing for a search. Instead, say only that you refuse a search, and then ask if you are being detained. If you are, ask them to explain
the probable cause for stopping and searching. The distinction here is that now you're asking
the cops what is the probable cause, not acting defensive
saying there is no probable cause.At this point the traffic violation takes a bad turn. The cops can clearly see the prospect of dogs sniffing the vehicle scares your friends. They press their luck and bring some dogs to sniff around.Analysis:
Your friends are still in good shape, even if they gave the cops an opening earlier. No, your friends' rights were not violated.
Police can bring dogs to sniff around your car. It is equivalent to police officers peering into your car's windows, or walking around and looking under the car. Those are legally observable
spaces. That is not "searching." It's just air
around your car and dogs can indeed sniff that. They're not IN your vehicle; they're not SEARCHING your belonging. Then the cops say the dogs found something and that they're 'going to search'. "Now is the time to cough up! It'll be far worse for you if we find something!" Then your friends stupidly confess, and confirms guilt.
Officers can lie. They're allowed to. The fact of the matter is that if the officers had probable cause to search, they would've already searched your vehicle and found whatever they were looking for. Instead they could only threaten
it even with false promises. The cops had no probable cause, so they were trying to scare your friends into confession.
Remember: what cops cannot do is search your vehicle unless they have a warrant, or if they have actual
probable cause to do so using specific facts (for example if you have a bong on the dashboard, or your car really does smell like a pot farm). I doubt your friends were that stupid.
Never ever consent to a search. Never confess. Let the police work for it if they're so inclined, but don't torpedo yourself unnecessarily.How it should've gone down:"The dogs are picking up a scent. We're going to search, now is the time to cough up!"
"Officer, I politely refuse to provide any information. I also do not consent to a search. Am I free to go?"
"We believe our dogs have picked up the scent of contraband in your car."
<-- Delaying tactic, not a reason."Officer, I ask again: am I free to go? If not, please explain your probable cause."
At this point the delaying tactics of the officer cannot be applied. He must either point to specific facts for probable cause, or release you.
Oh yeah, and following the script with no openings will take the wind out of the police's sails. Now they're dealing with someone who is bulletproof and a waste of time. They want easy pickings, the type of people who crumple under pressure.What is the worst that can happen?
You do get searched. They find whatever you would've confessed to, and you get the same penalty
unless you really were trafficking a whole lot more contraband than a shitty ticket would be worth. Anyone doing that would probably do a better job hiding it and knowing his rights, but I digress...
Anyway, know your rights:Print out one of these cards
from the ACLU, and take it with you next time. They hand them out at center camp too at times, but it's good to have them before you enter as well. Hell, memorize them. It's not that hard.