Supreme Court rules that cops can’t hold you for even a few extra minutes without good reason after routine traffic stops

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that after police have completed a routine traffic stop, they cannot hold you for even a few extra minutes without the usual suspicion required to detain a person.

In Rodriguez v. United States, a case brought by a Nebraska man who was pulled over for driving erratically on a state highway in 2012, the court majority said police lacked probable cause in a search that led to the man’s drug charge.

The man in the case, Dennys Rodriguez, had his license checked and was issued a warning for his improper driving. But then a police officer asked Rodriguez if he would consent to having a drug-sniffing dog walk around the vehicle. He refused.

The officer still held Rodriguez and told him to wait in his vehicle for “seven or eight minutes,” according to a report in the Hill, until another officer arrived with the drug-sniffing dog. Police ended up arresting Rodriguez for possession of methamphetamines and Rodriguez was indicted on federal drug charges.

But at the moment that the first officer completed the initial check, all further searches of Rodriguez’s car were illegal, Ginsburg said in the ruling. The “tolerable duration of police inquiries in the traffic-stop context is determined by the seizure’s ‘mission’ — to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop,” she wrote. “Authority for the seizure thus ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are — or reasonably should have been — completed.”

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