Defendant was convicted of one count of promoting a dangerous drug in the second degree and one count of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. On certiorari, the Hawaii Supreme Court noticed plain error affecting the Defendant’s substantial rights with respect to the circuit court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress. The Hawaii Supreme Court remanded this criminal matter back down to the circuit court for further proceedings, holding that the circuit court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress as to certain drug evidence. The Court held (1) a dog sniff conducted by the Kauai Police Department (KPD) was unrelated to the initial stop and seizure of the truck driven by Defendant for evidence of the alleged theft of a purse; (2) KPD did not have independent reasonable suspicion to believe the truck contained drugs; and (3) therefore, the dog sniff violated Defendant’s constitutional right against unreasonable searches.

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Editor’s Note:  There are a number of states with state law that affords people with more protection than that afforded by the Fourth Amendment alone.  The Fourth Amendment does not require a reasonable suspicion for a K9 to conduct a free air sniff during a traffic stop (see Illinois v. Caballes).  However, as demonstrated by this case, the laws of the State of Hawaii require it.  State law enforcement officers must know these additional state law restrictions on law enforcement activities!