[T]he police impermissibly prolonged Ms. Haley’s detention to accommodate the arrival of the canine unit.


State v. Haley

2022 – Ohio – 2188

Third District Appellate Court

Marion County, Ohio

June 27, 2022

On November 17, 2019 at 4:10 a.m. an officer in the Third District Appellate Court jurisdiction was in his cruiser when he observed a vehicle driving on the roadway with a broken taillight. The officer initiated a traffic stop of this vehicle. He later testified that the broken taillight was the only reason that he stopped the vehicle. Ms. Deborah Haley was the driver of this vehicle and had a passenger with her in the car.

The officer obtained identification from the occupants of the vehicle and returned to his cruiser to verify their information in the police system. He found no outstanding warrants for the occupants of the vehicle and uncovered no issues with Ms. Haley’s driver’s license. However, he discovered a record from 2018 that indicated that the passenger had previously been involved with illegal drugs in some form.  The officer affirmed that, other than the passenger’s history of drug use, there were “no other criminal indicators” for the passenger or for Ms. Haley.

The officer called for a canine unit to come to the location of the stop. After the requested unit arrived, the canine alerted at Ms. Haley’s vehicle. The officer testified that he, his lieutenant who had arrived on the scene, Ms. Haley, and the passenger were standing outside of the vehicle at the time the canine alerted. The police then searched the vehicle and located “methamphetamine inside of a pink billfold inside of a purse.” After the search was completed, the officer filled out and issued a citation for the broken taillight. He later testified that he did not work on the citation while awaiting the arrival of the canine unit. Rather, the officer stated that he was monitoring Ms. Haley and the passenger during this timeframe.

On July 8, 2020, Ms. Haley was charged on one count of possession of drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A). On November 15, 2021, Ms. Haley filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the police did not have a legal justification to prolong her detention to allow for a canine unit to arrive at the scene. After a hearing on December 21, 2021, the trial court granted the motion to suppress. The trial court found that the police did not have a reasonable articulable suspicion that could serve as a basis for extending the stop to accommodate the arrival of the canine unit.


State v. Rusnak, 120 Ohio App.3d 24, 28, 696 N.E.2d 633 (6th Dist. 1997).

“Consequently, a law enforcement officer may conduct a canine sniff of a vehicle without reasonable suspicion of additional illegal activity, provided that ‘the officer conducts [the] canine sniff of the vehicle before the reasonable completion of the traffic stop procedures”.

At the suppression hearing, the officer indicated that, from the time that he called for the canine unit to the time that the dog alerted at the vehicle, he did not work on a citation or issue a warning to Haley for her broken taillight. He further affirmed that he was not “[D]oing anything in furtherance of the original reason that [he] … stopped the car … other than monitoring the occupants of the vehicle.” The officer then stated that he did not fill out the citation for the broken taillight until after the dog had alerted and the police had searched the vehicle.

The officer’s testimony indicates that he stopped all the activities that are associated with a routine traffic stop after he called for the canine unit. By delaying the process of writing and issuing a citation, the officer unnecessarily extended the duration of this stop and prolonged Ms. Haley’s detention.

Having examined the evidence in the record, we conclude that the officer did not have a reasonable articulable suspicion to prolong Ms. Haley’s detention to await the arrival of the canine unit. Nothing in the record suggests that the passenger had any significant history of drug activity that would lead to a reasonable articulable suspicion that illegal activity was occurring at the time of the traffic stop in this case.

In the absence of a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity, the police impermissibly prolonged Ms. Haley’s detention to accommodate the arrival of the canine unit.



Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court did not err in granting Ms. Haley’s motion to suppress. The State of Ohio’s sole assignment of error is overruled.

Information for this article was obtained from State v. Haley, 2022 – Ohio – 2188.

This case was issued by the Third District Appellate Court and is only binding in the following Ohio Counties: Allen, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Marion, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Union, Van Wert and Wyandot.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Most often, law enforcement may not prolong a traffic stop for the arrival of a canine. However, if the officer obtains additional information prior to or during the traffic stop, then delaying the stop for a canine ‘may’ be reasonable.
  2. Though not stated, the officer appears to have been concerned with officer safety, which may have been why he kept the vehicles under surveillance while waiting for the canine. Clearly this is a safety tactic however, when viewed through the legal lens, it is unconstitutional.  There is not clear constitutional stop-watch for everything an officer does.  However, this is one time that the Fourth Amendment does have a time clock.
  3. To improve on this stop, the officer could have begun the traffic citation while awaiting the canine’s arrival. Law enforcement is THE hardest job in America and this legal requirement is one prime example as to the challenge of knowing every legal rule.

Does your agency train on Traffic Stops?

Don’t fail your training.

Don’t let your training fail you!

Be safe, smart and Objectively Reasonable!

Robert H. Meader Esq.