If you are a passenger in a stopped motor vehicle, there are three scenarios in which an order by the police to exit the vehicle is justified. First, an exit order is justified if a reasonable person in the officer’s position would be warranted in the belief that the safety of the police or the public was in danger. Second, if the police develop reasonable suspicion that the passenger was engaged in criminal activity separate from any offense of the driver, an exit order is justified. Third, the police can order a passenger out of a vehicle based on probable cause to search the vehicle under the belief that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime.
As to the safety basis for a motor vehicle exit order, the court will look to whether the passenger is reaching under the seats of the passenger compartment, whether that person is cooperate, as well as the likelihood that the person’s actions are consistent with reaching for a weapon.
Additionally, if the police believe based on objective facts that the passenger is engaged in criminal activity, that person may be removed from the vehicle. For instance, if the police approach a motor vehicle and observe cocaine within the possession of a passenger, that person may be removed immediately.
Finally, an exit order is justified if the police have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime. For example, if the police observe cocaine within the motor vehicle, and not specifically within the possession of any one individual, the police may order the passengers out of the motor vehicle.
As a result, if you are ordered out of a motor vehicle and charged with a crime, contact a criminal attorney today who will fight for you and your rights. Just because you were ordered out doesn’t mean that it was legally justified.