United States v. Lewis

Officer Sweeney pulled Lewis over for following too closely. Sweeney processed a warning while Lewis, who seemed unusually nervous, sat in the squad car. After learning Lewis was on federal supervised release for a cocaine conviction, Sweeney requested a drug‐sniffing dog roughly 5 minutes into the stop. About 10 minutes and 50 seconds after Lewis pulled over, Sweeney handed him a warning. About 10 seconds later, a drug‐sniffing dog and its handler approached Lewis’s car. The dog alerted. Sweeney searched Lewis’s car and found heroin. Lewis was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of his motion to suppress. The officer had lawful grounds to initiate the traffic stop; it is irrelevant whether Lewis actually committed a traffic offense because Sweeney had a reasonable belief that he did so. Officer Sweeney did not unjustifiably prolong the traffic stop past the time reasonably required to complete the mission of issuing a warning; any delay beyond the routine traffic stop to allow the dog to sniff was justified by independent reasonable suspicion. View "United States v. Lewis" on Justia Law