The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office utilizes police dogs for a variety of tasks. One job of the dogs is to alert when the dog smells drugs. If a drug-detection dog alerts to the exterior of a car, that gives the officer probable cause to search the car without getting a warrant. An alert is a gesture or noise the dog makes when it smells the illegal drugs.
As a Jacksonville Drug Attorney, I have had many cases where the drug-detection dogs were used. Many times, the officer will pull over a car for a civil infraction (ticket) and will call the drug officer to the scene. As long as the drug dog and the handler get there within the time it takes for the officer to write the ticket, the dog sniff is considered valid. The officer will walk the dog around the exterior of the car and if the dog alerts, the officer can search the interior of your car without your permission.
In order for the search to be valid, the officer must have a reasonable basis for believing the drug-detection dog is reliable. After being arrested in Jacksonville for something found in your car after a dog alerts, such as illegal drugs or a gun, the prosecutor must present the training and certification records of the dog, an explanation of the meaning of the particular training and certification of that dog, field performance records, and evidence concerning the experience and training of the officer handling the dog.