Can the Police Ask You to Get Out of Your Vehicle During a Traffic Stop and Then “Frisk”

The United States Supreme Court Addressed this issue in Pennsylvania v. Mimms . The Court held that it was common for police to ask people inside their vehicle to exit to avoid danger to the officer. Also this would avoid danger from oncoming traffic id Officer had to stand beside the driver window in the path of heavy traffic. Asking Mimms to "step out" created only a little more inconvenience and revealed a little more than what was visible already. Therefore the bulge that the officer noticed posed as a serious threat to the officer. The Court stated that anyone with this realization may have conducted a “pat down.” Maryland has addressed this issue several times as well. See Sibron v. New York , 392 U.S. 40 (1968); Weedon v. State , 82 Md. App. 692 (1990); Graham v. State , 146 Md.App. 327 (2002), Simpler v. State , 318 Md. 311 (1990) and more recently, Bailey v. State , 412 Md. 349 (2010). Basically under these cases the police would need to articulate behavior by the defendant or a suspected crime would to support a ''reasonable belief'' that The Defendant was armed and dangerous. Absent these factors, the Defense attorney should argue that the police cannot just ask you to get out of the vehicle and then frisk.

The Dissenting Opinion in Mimms : ( by Justices Brennan, Stevens, Marshall) astutely points out that the majority was ill advised to lowers the standard of justification for a major category of police seizures. Police safety is important, but the dissent finds evidence of how officers are slain to be unconvincing since many law enforcement training manuals teach against asking suspects to get out of their vehicles, when issuing traffic tickets. Basically if the suspect is armed and dangerous, asking him to get out of the vehicle is likely to create a confrontation which contradicts the rationale that officer safety is being promoted here. Instead what will be created is a society where innocent men, women and children can randomly be stopped and searched. The Mimms Court basically created a “third-class” of seizures which may be imposed without much reason at all. Luckily, the Maryland Case law is more help full and somewhat narrows the scope of such intrusions.

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