Drug rehabs are watching two cases that appear before the U.S. Supreme Court this week concerning drug sniffing dogs in Florida. Many substance abuse treatment centers house patients who have been sent to drug rehab as a result of being busted with drugs by K-9 police. These drug rehab patients often complain that police had no right to search their homes or cars for drugs. Even though substance abuse treatment centers are not in the business of interpreting the law, these drug rehab patients may be right.
The state of Florida is set to appeal two decisions by the state’s highest court, which ruled that drug sniffing dogs cannot be used to discover drugs because this act violates the constitutional restriction on unreasonable searches and seizures.
One case involves whether or not a drug dog can sniff outside a house without a warrant, and the other case involves the dog’s qualifications for the job, according to Reuters.
The cases could limit or extend earlier court decisions that have given police wide latitude in using dogs in situations including sniffing suitcases at airports, and sniffing cars stopped at checkpoints.
Richard Garnett, a University of Notre Dame law professor and former clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist states, "If the court vindicates the ability of police to use dogs without probable cause, and that a sniff outside a car justifies searching that car, it could enhance their ability to use dogs for law enforcement."
In Florida, the state’s Supreme Court recently ruled that a dog sniffing search by Miami police outside the home of marijuana growers was unconstitutional.
The dog named Franky, a Labrador retriever, retired recently after seven years with the Miami police. Franky was responsible for the seizure of over 2.5 tons of marijuana and 4.9 million in drug money. The other Florida case before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a German shepherd did not have the proper drug dog qualifications to sniff a pickup truck where police found ingredients to make crystal meth.
Although drug rehab patients who have been sent to substance abuse treatment centers by judges may have valid arguments regarding their constitutional rights, drug rehab experts say it is best that these patients are getting the help they need. Despite the legality of their situations, drugs were definitely found on their possession. Besides, it could be worse. These folks could be inmates at a prison rather than patients in a drug rehab.