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Law Offices Of Wiley Nickel, PLLC


Can the Police Use Dogs to Search My Car?

Police Car

Have you been pulled over for a traffic stop? Did the police ask you to search your car, and to use the K-9 unit?

You might wonder if the police are allowed to use dogs to search your car, and the short answer is, yes, police officers may be able to use dogs to sniff the outside of your car.

Generally, the police have a wide range of authority to search someone's car. If the police see a traffic violation, or suspect other "criminal activity" such as Driving While Impaired, the police can legally stop you. Once you are stopped, the police have probable cause to search the car IF they believe evidence related to the crime they stopped you for may be present in the car. So, if they walk up to your window and see or smell marijuana they then have reason to search your car. This does NOT mean they necessarily have probable cause to search the occupants of the car. Using dogs to sniff your car to see if there is any potential drug paraphernalia or drugs present may be part of that search.

But what if you didn't allow the police to bring the K-9 unit, are they allowed to go ahead and bring out the dogs anyway? Again, the police may be able to do that, if they believe that evidence of wrongdoing might be in the car. If the police suspect that you are Driving While Impaired, and may believe that you have marijuana present in the car, they will probably be allowed to use dogs to detect the presence of possible marijuana or other drugs.

If you have questions about a recent search the police conducted of your car, or general questions regarding searches, call the Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC., located in Cary, NC at 919-585-1486. You can also send an email to Kristi Haddock at kristi@wileynickel.com, or Wiley Nickel at wiley@wileynickel.com.

Kristi Haddock