ASK A COP: Can an officer order you out of the vehicle during a traffic stop?
Published 12:02 am Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Gerald from Port Arthur asks: A few months ago I experienced an encounter with a police officer that still got me asking questions as to whether or not my rights were violated. The police officer had a reason to stop me, but I’m confused about him ordering me from my vehicle. I wasn’t comfortable with stepping out of my vehicle because of all the things go wrong once the driver steps out of the vehicle. I just didn’t want to be a victim of police brutality or anything! Do police officers have the authority to order a driver from the vehicle who are NOT problematic during the stop?
Answer: We in the law enforcement community are not without understanding that some who once wore a badge have tarnished the relationship between us and the citizens we protect. YouTube is filled with what seems as countless videos of encounters with a law enforcement officer turned deadly from a minor infraction. Sir, there is a Supreme Court case, Pennsylvania vs. Mims (1977), that gives police officers the authority to order the driver/passenger from a motor vehicle that was legally stopped. Your rights we’re NOT violated by simply ordering you from your vehicle. Often times I encourage motorist to comply on the side of the roadway, and if you feel the officer mistreated you, complain later to their supervisor. Do NOT get into a back-and-forth rights violation argument with the officer. Simply state your stance against getting out the vehicle. COMPLY on side the road and COMPLAIN later. Too many unnecessary encounters occur because motorists believe they can NOT be ordered from their vehicle. So, Gerald, if there’s a next time and you’re ordered out of your vehicle, know that you MUST get out!
Lane for Groves asks: My neighbor and I are inquiring about driving barefoot. Is it illegal or not on a vehicle/motorcycle?
Answer: This question reminds me of the “Friday the 13th” character Jason. No matter how many times it is answered, it just keep coming back! I would love to know where this question originated. Tell your neighbor: “IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO DRIVE A MOTORCYCLE IN THE STATE OF TEXAS BAREFOOT! There are some serious safety concerns removing your shoe to drive a motorcycle and motor vehicle, like the having to stop suddenly and using your feet to stabilize the motorcycle will cause a lot of pain. Feet are a major component when it comes to stopping and stabilizing the motorcycle. The only state that has a restriction on barefoot motorcycle riding is the state of Alabama. Alabama requires footwear to operate a motorcycle. Now, while driving a car, a shoe can slide under the brake pedal, making stopping the vehicle a much harder task. In that case, barefoot drivers can better gauge the braking and acceleration of a motor vehicle, than someone with thick soles, or slick soles that can easily slip off the brake or gas pedal.
Janet from Beaumont asks: Is there a maximum number of persons that can sit in the front seat of a motor vehicle? We were going to a party and four people piled in the front seat. My cousin told me that was too many people in the front seat and we should have been stopped and given a ticket. If this is true, who would get the ticket the driver or the passengers?
Answer: When the front seat passengers, including the driver, exceeds more than three people in a motor vehicle, the state of Texas says the driver’s view to the front and sides of the vehicle can NOT be obstructed. In this case, the driver would receive the citation if the officer so elected to cite someone for driver obstruction. It may also be worthy to note that there will only be seat belt position for three people, and as long as ALL seating positions in the vehicle are secured by a safety belt, a fourth passenger can sit in the front seat without being secured by a safety belt as long as the driver’s vision is not obstructed.
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