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Court rules police dog exterior search of vehicle OK

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news New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

When a police dog sniffs the outside of a vehicle, it is not an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment.

That's what the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The justices upheld the 2005 arrest of Ramon Arias of Colby.

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According to the ruling, a Colby-Abbotsford police officer saw Arias put liquor into a car driven by a girl he knew to be 17.

He stopped the car because he thought it was illegal for underage people to drive with any liquor in a vehicle.

A police dog sniffed around the car and the officer then searched the vehicle. He found a switchblade on Arias, along with a bag that appeared to be cocaine.

Based on that, Arias was charged with illegal possession of a switch-blade knife and possessing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school zone.

At a preliminary hearing, a Clark County judge threw out the knife and drug evidence, saying the dog's discovery amounted to an illegal search.

The state appealed and the Supreme Court voted 4-3 to side with the police.

The court's three liberal judges were the ones who dissented -- Shirley Abrahamson, Louis Butler and Ann Walsh Bradley.

Justice Pat Roggensack said the U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that a police dog sniffing a vehicle's exterior did not constitute an official search.

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