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Drug dogs: Only about as accurate as a coin toss

Posted by Bulldog Law | May 08, 2023 | 0 Comments

Imagine that the police pull your car over and they would like to search the vehicle. They ask for your consent, but you know that you do not have to provide it. You're well within your rights to refuse to give them consent, so you do. You also know that they don't have a search warrant because they just pulled you over and there was no time to get one.

As a result, the police bring in a canine unit. They have the dog sniff around at the car, and they claim that the dog alerted to the presence of drugs in that vehicle. This gives them the ability to search your car, overruling your consent and making it so that they don't need a warrant. But is that fair to you?

A very low accuracy rate

Think of it this way: What if the police officer told you to choose heads or tails on a coin flip? If you got it wrong, they would search your car.

Obviously, you would never agree to something like that. But that's essentially what happens with a drug dog. The problem is that their accuracy rate is only about 50%. It's not much different than tossing a coin. If the dog alerts, it may mean there are drugs in the vehicle, but it may mean nothing of the sort.

Unfortunately, the police do still use dogs in some cases as justification to search vehicles. You can imagine how concerning this is when it's clear that dogs are not a very good indication of whether or not that search is actually justified. They are often used simply as a way to get around asking for a driver's consent or taking the time to get a warrant. As such, if you're facing serious charges, you must be aware of your legal defense options.

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