The legal duration of a traffic stop was recently subject to deliberation in the United States Supreme Court, Jason Nathaniel Carter v. State of Maryland, No. 290, Sept. Term, 2017. The court found that U.S. Constitutional Law deems that law enforcement detention of a driver during a traffic stop should be within reasonable and permissible limits.
Traffic Stops and Constitutional Law
In Carter v. Maryland, the law enforcement officer party to the matter had not completed a citation for traffic violations when a canine officer produced a positive alert indicating presence of a controlled and dangerous substance. While the plaintiff claimed that the officer delayed processing of the traffic citations, the defense argued that the traffic stop was underway at time of the canine search. No misconduct on behalf of the officer was found, despite record of temporary pause from processing the traffic citation to request the driver to exit the vehicle and brief the other officers before the canine scan could be performed. At no time, found the court, did the officer abandon the process or impermissibly delay the traffic stop.