When Is a Dog Sniff in Your Car Not a Search?

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided United States v. Sharp, a dog-sniff case. Here’s the court’s summary:

It is well-settled that a dog’s sniff around the exterior of a car is not a search under the Fourth Amendment. Defendant appeals the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress because a narcotics dog jumped into his car and sniffed inside the car before “alerting” to the presence of narcotics. The canine’s jump and subsequent sniff inside the vehicle was not a search in violation of the Fourth Amendment because the jump was instinctive and not the product of police encouragement. Therefore, we AFFIRM.