question.jpgIn Criminal Law

Can an officer order me out of my car during a traffic stop?

Sure. Although a police officer cannot search the interior of a car during a traffic stop without probable cause that there is contraband inside, an officer may still order a motorist out of car to ensure the officer’s safety; this is true even if the officer has no suspicion of criminal wrongdoing besides the traffic violation. Moreover, the officer may also order all passengers to get out of the car. If, while the driver and passengers are outside of the car, the police find probable cause of criminal wrongdoing (for instance, a gun falls out of a passenger’s pocket), then the passenger can be arrested. Moreover, if the officer reasonably suspects the driver or passengers are armed and dangerous, the police officer may conduct a pat down search to ensure there are no weapons.