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How Long Can a Cop Keep You After a Traffic Stop? No One's Sure

One of the murkiest areas in Fourth Amendment law.
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SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

A few months ago we published a guide to not getting arrested that was based on the experiences of a long-time police officer-turned-attorney from Miami, Florida. Last on our list of do's and don't's was this piece of advice: Never, ever consent to have your car searched. What we didn't mention in that piece is that the police have a loophole that will allow them to search your car without probable cause, a warrant, or your consent. The loophole's name is Fido. 

But first let's review: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution forbids the police from conducting searches and seizures without a warrant or probable cause. In a lot of cases, they get around this by asking you for permission to conduct a search. This puts you, the driver, in a tricky situation, largely because "consensual encounters" with an armed stranger who can arrest you very seldom feel consensual.