The court ruled that drug-sniffing dogs can be used to check out motorists even if officers have no reason to suspect they may be carrying narcotics.
In a 6 to 2 decision, the court sided with Illinois police who stopped Roy Caballes in 1998 along Interstate 80 near Peru for driving six miles over the speed limit. Although Caballes lawfully produced his driver's license, troopers brought over a drug dog after he seemed nervous.
Caballes argued the Fourth Amendment protects motorists from searches such as dog sniffing, but Justice John Paul Stevens disagrees. He says the privacy intrusion was minimal.
During the stop, officers found $250,000 worth of marijuana in Caballes' trunk.
(The case is Illinois v. Caballes, 03-923. On the Net: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/ ).