Should I Refuse to Leave my Vehicle if Stopped by Law Enforcement?

Unfortunately, we must answer this question with “you should comply with an officer’s request to exit your vehicle.” Even if you think you shouldn’t have to exit, there are several situations where an officer can legally order you out of the vehicle and you don’t want to have to litigate the question/answer either on the street or in a courtroom after your arrest. Any arrests occur because the officer believes you failed his/her attitude test. The main reason used by the police officers is “officer safety.” Officers frequently request drivers step out of their vehicles so they have a full visual of you but many times this is full bore horse manure. They want to see how you stand and smell and react under their scrutiny.

Police Officer Options During a Stop

If an officer is alone on a traffic stop and is awaiting a back up unit to check by there are a number of other options available to that officer. If the officer thinks you are a bad actor he may be safer if he keeps you in the vehicle with your hands in full view. Once you are out of the vehicle you can quickly close the distance between the two and physically assault the officer. Once out of the vehicle the “suspect” can also have full range of motion to draw a weapon and attack or shoot at an officer. If seated in the vehicle the driver has limited mobility to attack or to point a weapon. A knife held by a seat belted driver is useless against an officer that is outside of the vehicle and the officer can use his foot to kick the door closed should the driver attempt to exit.

Officers also ask drivers out of their vehicles when they have probable cause to search the vehicle or reason to continue the detention for some reason. Remember that they are the ones with guns, badges, nightsticks, tasers and handcuffs. If you feel that the officer is out of control you need to remain calm and ask for the officer’s supervisor to check by to talk. Of course that is complicated when the supervisor is even more aggressive than the officer or when the officer is the supervisor.

Don’t Refuse When Asked By A Police Officer

It is not a wise idea to refuse to exit the vehicle when asked by a police officer. In most cases, they will forcibly pull you out and that could lead to further charges against you. It really sucks to have a client say that they were tasered by an officer for refusing to exit a vehicle and then also charged with resisting a search, or frisk, or arrest. It is better to cooperate and then protest to a supervisor or Internal Affairs with an attorney running interference for you.

Many times a desired plea offer is unobtainable due to a physical confrontation or argument at the scene of an arrest. The officers will also list the uncooperative behavior as being related to intoxication and turn your “refusal” into drunken belligerence. Remember that the officer has all the power at the scene of a traffic stop or citizen encounter. We recommend you download the free DWI Dudes app and record the whole incident on your smart phone just in case his recording get lost or fails to record. And keep our contact information locked into your phone as well in case your friends get hassled or arrested.