The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that when a police dog sniffs the exterior of a vehicle, it is not an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment. The 4-3 ruling upholds the 2005 arrest of Ramon Arias of Colby. According to the ruling, a Colby-Abbotsford police officer stopped a car driven by an underage girl, after witnessing Arias put liquor into. A police dog sniffed around the car, and the officer then searched the vehicle. He found a switchblade on Arias, along with a bag of what 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. But 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 sided with the police. The court's three liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented along with Justices Louis Butler and Ann Walsh Bradley. But 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.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen applauded the decision . "This is an excellent decision for Wisconsin law enforcement in fighting drug trafficking in our state," said Van Hollen. "Dogs have been a valuable, efficient, and safe tool in detecting narcotics, and this holding allows their reasonable use to continue."