A lot of police officers now have either dogs that ride with them or dogs that they have access to, and I'm not talking about just a dog that's like your family pet. What I'm referring to are drug detection dogs or drug dogs; these are dogs that have been trained to smell and identify narcotics. And they are used a lot more often and a lot more frequently than they used to be.
The reason why the police can use a dog is that although you have a right to privacy for the contents of your vehicle, the right to privacy for your person, and the right to privacy in your house, you don't have a right to privacy in the air or anything that is exposed to the public. Anything that anybody can get access to - such as smell - is basically fair game, so it's often called an open-air search. The dog is allowed to go around the car and attempt to identify any smells that they think are associated with the narcotics. If they identify something and if it's a valid alert, that gives the officer a reason to search the car and attempt to locate the source of the odor or the smell.
Several issues are involved with drug dogs. There are some limitations on how long you can be held on the side of the road while you wait for a drug dog to get there. There can also be issues with the training of the dog; the dog is basically an expert and the state's going to have to prove that the dog has been properly trained and can do what it's supposed to do.
If you've been subject to a search by a dog and you end up getting arrested we can help. Give us a call or fill out the contact form on this page and let us put our experience to work for you.