Can Police Order You Out of Your Car?
Recently the New Jersey Supreme Court decided the case of State v. Mai. The Court ruled, “when a police officer is justified in ordering a motor vehicle passenger to exit the vehicle, the officer may also open the passenger’s door”.
The law in New Jersey is that police officers may order a passenger to exit a motor vehicle when the officer has a heightened awareness of danger that would warrant an objectively reasonable officer in securing the scene in a more effective manner by ordering the passenger to get out of the car. The Court went on to hold that, “In the realm of defining reasonable searches and seizures, no meaningful or relevant difference exists between the grant of authority to order an occupant of a vehicle to exit the vehicle and the authority to open the door as part of issuing that lawful order. Plain logic demands that the principles that govern whether a passenger of a vehicle lawfully can be ordered out of the vehicle must apply with equal force to whether a police officer is entitled, as a corollary and reasonable safety measure, to open the door as part of issuing a proper order to exit.”
So, the answer is yes the police can order you out of your car as long as it is reasonable. Again the Court has not painted a very clear picture here. It all still depends on the facts.
We know this is confusing. Contact our office if you have any questions.