When you are pulled over by the police many things thoughts might occur thru one’s head. One might be “what to do at a traffic stop”? While I can’t exactly answer that, I can tell you what police officers are allowed to do and for about how long they are allowed do it. In Pennsylvania, the police are allowed by law to order the driver and any passengers out of the for just “police officer safety”. The Supreme court allows this because the police need to be protected to effectively do their job. What separates the driver and any passengers is the type of police interactions. If you recall my first blog on searches and seizures I talked about the 3 different types of interactions. In a traffic stop the driver is under a “investigatory detention”. While the passengers are considered under a ” mere encounter”. This is that way because with the driver the police have “reasonable and articulate facts to believe criminal activity is afoot”. Even though it is just a motor vehicle violation, it is still technically a crime. While the passenger has committed no crime and technically could walk away after being frisked for weapons. The driver can only be detained ” for as long as reasonably necessary for the police to complete their investigation; usually 20 minutes”. This is just a normal scenario, if passenger behaviors change, then this scenario would.
So that is a brief explanation on the scope of traffic stops.