No Drugs Located after Drug Dog Alerted on Vehicle

Utah motorists may wonder what their rights are regarding searches from a drug dog of their car and what to do when no drugs are located after an alert on a vehicle.

Sniffing isn’t considered searching

Drug Dog

Photo by: David Beach

Just as an officer is allowed to look in a window to see if drugs are in plain view, a drug dog is allowed to sniff vehicles without a warrant as it doesn’t violate any rights of the motorist. The inspection by the drug dog cannot cause the motorist to be detained while the dog sniffs around however. It has to be done during the same time that an officer is performing a traffic stop for a legitimate reason.

Probable cause

If a sniffer dog alerts after sniffing a vehicle, he is giving his handler some kind of a sign, however subtle, that there are drugs in the vehicle. Once the dog has alerted, the officer then has probable cause to search the vehicle. Any drugs confiscated from that point are done so with probable cause and can be used as evidence in court.

Drug dog false alarm

One issue that occasionally comes up when a drug dog alerts during a traffic stop is that no drugs turn up inside the vehicle. When this happens, motorists may wonder whether or not the dog actually alerted on the vehicle. They may just be grateful that the alert turned out to be a false alarm and be on their way. However, their constitutional rights may have just been violated by the officer and that should not be ignored. For more information on your Fourth Amendment rights during a traffic stop, especially when it involves a drugdog contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Suspended Driver’s License Following Marijuana Charges

Utah residents can expect to have their driver’s license suspended following a DUI, yet they may be surprised when they lose their license following marijuana charges which were not acquired when behind the wheel.

DUI

Photo by: Nate Steiner

Photo by: Nate Steiner

Anyone who is found guilty for a DUI in Utah which includes driving with any measurable amount of a drug in their system can face anywhere from two days up to six months in jail and have their license suspended for:
• 120 days for individuals 21 years of age or older,
• One year or until age 21 for individuals who are 19 or 20 years old, or
• Until age 21 for individuals under age 19.
A driver’s license may be revoked if there are previous arrests for the same charges.

Utah Controlled Substances Act

A DUI isn’t the only marijuana charge that can end in a driver’s license being suspended. In Utah, cultivating, distributing, or even simple possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia may result in a driver’s license being suspended for six months. Even a failed attempt to possess marijuana can result in the same suspension.

Safeguard your license after a marijuana charge

License Suspension after Marijuana Charges

Photo by: Kat

Losing a license can make it difficult or nearly impossible for some Utah residents to attend school or make it to they place of employment. Anyone facing marijuana charges should consult with a criminal defense attorney regarding protecting their driving rights. An experienced attorney can help an individual keep their driver’s license whether through helping to prove no fault or through a plea in abeyance, which may end in a fine but no driver’s license suspension.

Felony Child Endangerment for Drugs in Reach of Children

Two individuals from American Fork Utah are facing a variety of drug charges along with felony child endangerment for storing drugs within the reach of children in the home.

Other people’s children

Child Endangerment

Photo by: Mary T Moore

25 year old Zachery Walters and 24 year old Hilary Lay were staying in the basement portion of a home that belonged to another person when they were arrested for possessing hefty amounts of cocaine and marijuana. The quantity of the drugs confiscated was large enough to bring distribution charges. While the couple knowingly possessed illegal drugs, they likely failed to realize they would also be facing additional felony charges for child endangerment since the landlord’s children had bedrooms nearby; thus potentially putting the kids at risk of coming into contact with the drugs.

3rd degree felony child endangerment

Child endangerment is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Utah Code 76-5-112.5 states regarding endangerment of a child that “a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if the person knowingly or intentionally causes or permits a child or a vulnerable adult to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia;”

A technicality

While there are no reports or evidence that any children in the home that Walters and Lay were staying in had come in contact with drugs, section 112.5 clarifies that “exposed to” can mean that because of the where the children were in proximity to the drugs, they could have potentially possessed, seen, or even smelled the illegal drugs or paraphernalia. Although Walters and Lay will likely face some drug charges, there are other charges which could be considered questionable such as distribution and child endangerment. An experienced criminal defense attorney is always suggested but would be greatly recommended in a case such as this.