Yes, the police can order a driver to get out of the vehicle during a traffic stop. The police can make passengers get out of the vehicle as well. While you should always speak to a lawyer about your specific case, it is generally legal for a police officer to order someone out of a vehicle during a traffic stop for officer safety purposes.
Police can conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle if the police officer observes any occupant of the vehicle commit a traffic violation. That means an officer can initiate a traffic stop if the driver is caught speeding, running a stop sign or running a red light, but it also means the officer can initiate a traffic stop if the officer sees a passenger not wearing a seatbelt or drinking a beer in the car. The officer can lawfully conduct the traffic stop in any one of those situations because the traffic stop is based on a reasonable suspicion that the driver or passenger committed a traffic violation. Once the traffic stop is initiated, the police officer ca speak to the driver or passenger and write a ticket, but the officer is only permitted to keep the driver and/or passenger detained as long as it takes to write the citation for the traffic violation. The officer is not allowed to prolong the traffic stop for any reason (oftentimes, law enforcement officers will delay a traffic stop to allow time for a K9 officer to arrive on scene).
One tactic that the police can use to prolong the stop is ordering you to get out of the car. A police officer can legally order any occupant of a vehicle to get out of the car during a lawful traffic stop, even if the traffic stop was based on a minor offense. Oftentimes, there are more occupants of a vehicle than there are officers on scene at the time of a traffic stop. There are also many situations where officers can’t see into a vehicle because of a lack of windows, tinted windows or other factors. Courts have held that an officer can order an occupant(s) out of a vehicle during a traffic stop to prevent the officer from being in a situation where they can’t see all of the occupants during the stop. In that situation, the officer can order the occupants out of the vehicle and the officer can detain the individuals on the side of the road for the duration of a traffic stop. Even if there is only one person in the car, the officer can require that one person to get out of the car if the officer feels it is necessary for his or her safety, and the officer doesn’t have to explain why he or she felt unsafe. While being detained on the side of the road is embarrassing, demeaning and frustrating, police officers are legally allowed to order you out of the car during a lawful traffic stop.
That being said, there are some situations where it would be unreasonable to order an occupant out of the car. For instance, if an occupant is disabled, or if there are minor children in the car, then it may not be reasonable to require the minor child to get out of the car, but such an order would not be illegal. There are also situations where it wouldn’t be appropriate to order someone out of the car because it is against department policy, so it’s important for you to speak to a lawyer about your case to determine whether or not you were lawfully ordered out of the car.
If you were pulled over and removed from your car during a traffic stop then you should contact a lawyer to go over your case. Law enforcement is generally allowed to make someone get out of the car during a lawful traffic stop, but even if you think the traffic stop was lawful you may be wrong. In fact, law enforcement officers are allowed to mislead you and may not have been honest when they told you why you were pulled over, so contacting a lawyer is always in your best interest.
If an officer pulled you over and ordered you out of the car, then your constitutional rights may have been violated. Regardless of the situation, you need an experienced attorney to file pleadings with the appropriate court attacking the legality of the traffic stop and fighting to get a copy of all dash camera and body camera footage. There are many more benefits to hiring an attorney if you feel your rights have been violated, and it’s important for you to choose the right attorney. Matthew Williams and the Law Office of Matthew Williams focus primarily on criminal defense matters in North Florida, and he’s been handling cases involving illegal traffic stops his entire career. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case, and he refuses to let law enforcement, state attorneys, or the criminal justice system stand in the way of getting his clients the justice they deserve. He obtains the best results for his clients and he’ll do the same for you. Give the Law Office of Matthew Williams a call now.
Most people think a police officer needs “probable cause” to conduct a traffic stop, but an officer only requires “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over. Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard created by case law and discussed for the first time in 1968 in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). For a traffic stop to be lawful, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you either just committed a crime, you are committing a crime, or you are about to commit a crime. The officer’s reasonable suspicion must be based on articulable facts that tend to show criminal activity is afoot (an officer also needs reasonable suspicion to stop someone on the street or pat down a person they believe is armed).
For example, an officer merely saying “I had a feeling that the driver was committing a crime,” would not amount to reasonable suspicion. The officer has not articulated facts that support why the officer believed criminal activity was afoot. Contrarily, an officer saying “I had a feeling that the driver was committing a crime because I saw the driver did not have on a seatbelt,” would amount to reasonable suspicion. The officer has articulated why he believed the driver was committing a crime. The officer’s traffic stop would be unlawful in the former situation since it was not based on reasonable suspicion. On the other hand, the traffic stop based on failure to wear a seatbelt would be lawful.
Probable cause is a legal standard that was established by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is required to make an arrest, conduct a search, seize property, or obtain a warrant. It can be established by something an officer sees, hears, smells, or receives information about. Probable cause can also be based on witness testimony, records/recordings, or anything else that tends to show a crime may have been committed. It’s a higher legal standard than reasonable suspicion in the sense that it requires more than just suspicion, but probable cause does not require anything near absolute certainty. The standard is mentioned in the Fourth Amendment, but it was not defined, so courts have been the sole source for defining probable cause over the years. Illinois v. Gates, 462 US 213 (1983), is a landmark case in the evolution of probable cause and search warrants, but probable cause is essentially evidence that provides a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed.
If an officer conducts a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion, an arrest without probable cause, or a search without probable cause, then someone’s constitutional rights were probably violated. At that point, that person should retain an attorney to file pleadings with the appropriate court, either seeking their release, dismissing a criminal case, or financial compensation. There are many more benefits to hiring an attorney if you feel your rights have been violated, and you need to choose the right lawyer. Attorney Matthew Williams and the Law Office of Matthew Williams focus primarily on criminal defense and civil rights matters in the North Florida areas, such as Tallahassee and surrounding areas. They take pride in having a personal relationship with their clients. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case. He refuses to let law enforcement, state attorneys, or the criminal justice system stand in the way of getting his clients the justice they deserve. He obtains the best results for his clients, and he’ll do the same for you. Give the Law Office of Matthew Williams a call now.