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Rodriguez v. United States

Supreme Court of the United States

January 21, 2015, Argued; April 21, 2015, Decided

No. 13-9972


Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.

In Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U. S. 405, 125 S. Ct. 834, 160 L. Ed. 2d 842 (2005), this Court held that a dog sniff conducted during a lawful traffic stop does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s proscription of unreasonable seizures. This case presents the question whether the Fourth Amendment tolerates a dog sniff conducted after completion of a traffic stop. We hold that a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures. A seizure justified only by a police-observed traffic violation, therefore, “become[s] unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete th[e] mission” of issuing a ticket for the violation. Id., at 407, 125 S. Ct. 834, 160 L. Ed. 2d 842. The Court so recognized in Caballes, and we adhere to the line drawn in that decision.

Just after midnight on March 27, 2012, police officer Morgan Struble observed a Mercury Mountaineer veer slowly onto the shoulder of Nebraska State Highway 275 for one or two seconds and then jerk back onto the road. Nebraska [***6]  law prohibits driving on highway shoulders, see Neb. Rev. Stat. §60-6,142 (2010), and on that basis, Struble pulled the Mountaineer over at 12:06 a.m. Struble is a K-9 officer with the Valley Police Department in Nebraska, and his dog Floyd was in his patrol car that night. Two men were in the Mountaineer: the driver, Dennys Rodriguez, and a front-seat passenger, Scott Pollman.

 [*1613]  Struble approached the Mountaineer on the passenger’s side. After Rodriguez identified himself, Struble asked him why he had driven onto the shoulder. Rodriguez replied that he had swerved to avoid a pothole. Struble then gathered Rodriguez’s license, registration, and proof of insurance,  [**497]  and asked Rodriguez to accompany him to the patrol car. Rodriguez asked if he was required to do so, and Struble answered that he was not. Rodriguez decided to wait in his own vehicle.

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135 S. Ct. 1609 *; 191 L. Ed. 2d 492 **; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 2807 ***; 83 U.S.L.W. 4241; 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 191


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.


United States v. Rodriguez, 741 F.3d 905, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 1897 (8th Cir. Neb., 2014)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.


traffic stop, dog sniff, reasonable suspicion, Fourth Amendment, seizure, driver, probable cause, arrest, dog, duration, mission, traffic, minutes, prolonged, quotation, marks, routine, traffic violation, drugs, reasonable manner, passenger, wait, written warning, questioning, conducting, warning, checks, search and seizure, warrant check, circumstances

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Scope of Protection, Criminal Law & Procedure, Warrantless Searches, Investigative Stops, Seizure of Persons