Stopped by the Police: Can They Make Me Get Out of My Car?

Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

stopped by policeThere are many misconceptions concerning traffic stops and what law enforcement is lawfully allowed to do when they have stopped you. One of the questions often asked is if the police are allowed to make you get out of the car once they have stopped you.

Read further to learn what other rights you have when you are stopped by the police.

What the Police Can and Cannot Do

First, it is important to understand that the police cannot pull you over unless they have a valid reason to do so. Usually, this will mean that they have witnessed you committing a moving violation, have reason to believe that you are driving under the influence, or that you have committed a crime.

They cannot simply pull you over because they have a hunch that you are “riding dirty” and want to check you out. They must have a valid reason. That being said – assuming that it is a valid stop – the courts have given police officers a lot of discretion in ordering the driver to get out of the car.

According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977), an officer is allowed to order you out of the vehicle just for safety purposes. That is, so that the officers can see what you are doing. The Supreme Court also intimated that the police should be allowed to ask the occupants of your vehicle over to the side of the road and away from oncoming traffic to minimize the chances of being hit by a passing vehicle.

Where the Confusion Lies

Many people are under the misconception that they are allowed to refuse the officer’s orders to exit their vehicles. This misconception is most likely because they are confounding this circumstance with the idea that you have the right to refuse to consent to an officer searching your vehicle, if he or she asks.  

It is true that the police are not allowed to search you or your vehicle unless you either give them consent, or they believe that you may be armed and dangerous or have something incriminating in your possession. However, the police are allowed to ask you to exit your vehicle. If you do not comply with the officer’s “request,” you may find yourself being arrested and taken to jail.

Nonetheless, the police often overstep their bounds and violate people’s rights with illegal searches and seizures. So, if you have been involved in a traffic stop where the police found something incriminating that led to charges being filed against you, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Many times, an attorney can challenge these searches in court, get the evidence excluded, and get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Albuquerque Criminal Defense Law Firm

Our attorneys focus exclusively on criminal defense, and are therefore knowledgeable of the best arguments to make for each individual case. We understand that your case offers a unique set of facts, and we are ready to rise to the challenge. If you have been arrested for any criminal offense, do not hesitate to contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices at (505) 375-4664 or fill out our online contact form for help today.