The police stopped two men for a lane change violation, and during the time it took the officer to complete an identity check on the passenger, he discovered the existence of drugs through the use of his dog. He searched the vehicle, having been provided probable cause, and discovered nearly ten pounds of marijuana. The dispatcher radioed him while he was searching the car to verify the passenger’s record.
The two men became defendants in a Henry Superior Court trial, during which they filed a motion to suppress evidence, claiming that the officer violated their fourth amendment rights. The trial court approved the motion, and Georgia’s Court of Appeals agreed with the court.
The Supreme Court of Georgia, however, felt that the stop did not violate the defendants’ rights, and the time that it took for the officer to verify the records was within the scope of a routine traffic stop. The Court claimed that the dog did not prolong the encounter because the officer was waiting for dispatch to check records on the passenger’s out-of-state license. The Supreme Court decided that the stop was constitutional, prompting the Appeals Court to change its decision to reflect the higher court and to reverse the trial court’s ruling on the motion.