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(773) 908-9811



Aggressive. Experienced.

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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Are Drug Sniffing Dogs Legal in Illinois?

If you’ve ever encountered a drug sniffing dog in Illinois, you probably have wondered about the legalities of their use. After all, can a drug sniffing dog just identify you as someone of interest when you’re walking down the street? What about if you’re in the car? In your house?

There is a lot to understand about drug sniffing dogs and their legal uses in Illinois, especially if you’re facing drug charges as a result of one. Here’s what you need to know about when police can use drug sniffing dogs in Illinois and what your rights are.

Your Rights

You have protections under the Constitution of the United States, and no one can violate those rights. The United States Supreme Court has ruled on cases involving drug sniffing dogs. They have ruled time and again that these dogs can be used within the parameters of the Constitution.

However, when a dog is used, a search warrant must also be a part of the equation to protect your rights under the law.

Traffic Stops and Drug Sniffing Dogs

A famous Supreme Court case outlines the parameters for drug sniffing dogs in circumstances involving traffic stops. That case is Illinois v. Caballes.

Under that ruling, drug dogs can be used in traffic stops without what is called “reasonable suspicion” on the part of the officer. The only caveat is that using the dog cannot prolong the traffic stop.

So, if the officer already has a dog with them, then the dog can easily be employed. But it is not legal for police to detain you indefinitely just to call a dog to the scene in order to investigate with them.

If a dog is with the police already when they use it, then they are allowed to walk it around a legally stopped vehicle. If the dog signals that it smells drugs, that counts as probable cause to search the car. Please keep in mind that this only applies if the dog is already at the scene.

It’s a violation of your rights to have a drug dog called to the scene to sniff around your vehicle after the fact. If the time it takes to bring a dog to the scene is longer than it would take to run your license/plates and issue a ticket, it’s illegal search by a drug canine. That’s directly from the Supreme Court.

Your Home and Drug Sniffing Dogs

If the police want to search your home with a drug sniffing dog, they also need probable cause in order to do so – and a search warrant. If you consent to a search, then that can count in lieu of a warrant.

In other words, dogs cannot be used to detect drugs and create probable cause for police when it comes to your domicile. This includes your house and the area around it – yard, driveway, what have you – also known as the curtilage, which is protected by your Constitutional rights.

Chicago Drug Lawyer

Any drug dog would have to be in close proximity to the home to be able to sniff out drugs. It’s simply not possible for them to get close enough, legally, to give probable cause for a warrant – without already invading your protected property.

If you’re involved in a case with a drug dog, then it’s vital to know your rights. There could be issues with the case if your rights were violated.


About the Author:

Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.



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