ALBANY — The New York State Court of Appeals on Tuesday held that police may use drug-detecting dogs to check vehicles stopped for traffic violations when they suspect there’s other criminal activity of some sort.
The 4-3 decision upheld the convictions of two men arrested in separate 2007 traffic stops. Cocaine was detected in their cars by dogs that first sniffed the exteriors and signaled the presence of contraband.
All the judges agree that such use of a dog constitutes a search and impinges on privacy, requiring some level of suspicion beyond a simple traffic violation.
The dissent said police should be required to meet the higher standard of “a reasonable suspicion” that a vehicle contains contraband.
The decision was released Tuesday.