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GET OUT! Asked to exit vehicle after a traffic stop

In criminal cases a common concern is that the officer requested the driver or other person to exit the vehicle. There is a line of thought that being removed from the vehicle requires a safety concern or other good reason. Some may question what issue(s) exist getting out of the car, others do not like the feeling of being seized, however in the context of criminal cases, exiting from a vehicle often discloses damaging evidence.

Presuming a valid traffic stop for speeding, failure to maintain a lane or other traffic infraction, law enforcement can request those inside the vehicle to exit and there is no need for a specific valid safety concern. The United States Supreme Court has said that once a vehicle has been lawfully stopped, police officers may have the driver get out as a matter of course without violating the Fourth Amendment (searches and seizures). In other words, the officers do not have to be able to articulate anything in specific.

This matters in a criminal case because upon opening the door, the driver or passenger could reveal drugs or firearms that are in the possession of a felon or were concealed without a license. In addition, other criminal cases like violation of injunction or violation of pre-trial release and the obvious criminal traffic violations such as suspended or no valid license can all start when the overhead lights are activated on the patrol car.

All this means is that analyzing the traffic stop can mean a great deal. Please call, click or fill out the form to see how we can help.

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