In the state of New Jersey, an appeals court is divided over the factors that give police the right to order passengers out of a vehicle after a traffic stop. In the State v. Bacome ruling, Judge Clarkson Fisher, Jr. and Judge Allison Accurso agreed that evidence acquired during the traffic stop should be suppressed because the police ordered the passenger to exit the vehicle based on a seatbelt violation. The passenger then signed a consent to search form, and during the vehicle search the officers found vials of crack in a cigarette packet in the car.
State Supreme Courts and federal Supreme Courts differ in opinion on the issue of whether a passenger can be ordered by police to exit a vehicle when that vehicle is pulled over for a traffic violation. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drivers could be ordered to exit a vehicle back in 1977. Twenty years later, the ruling was expanded to include that passengers could be ordered to exit as well. Judge Fisher noted that the New Jersey Supreme Court does not follow the federal ruling and cited a 1994 court ruling that police must believe they are in danger if the passenger remains in the car. In State v. Bacome Fisher stated that those circumstances were not present and the police were proceeding based on a hunch.
Should the state ask for an appeal, it will be heard by the Supreme Court and the expectation is that the state will argue that drivers and passengers should not be treated separately as they have been in the past. With the exception of general public road checks, law enforcement can pull a car over only if a driver is committing some type of traffic violation, such as speeding or failing to wear a seatbelt. After making a traffic stop, police are required to explain what type of traffic violation caused them to be pulled over. There are certain circumstances where the vehicle can be searched without the issue of a search warrant.
Circumstances that do not require a Search Warrant
- Drugs or weapons are in plain view.
- A driver or passenger has been arrested after being pulled over.
- Police feel that evidence is about to be destroyed.
South Jersey Traffic Violation Lawyers of Agre & St. John get Positive Results for those Accused of Traffic Offenses
South Jersey traffic violation lawyers at the Law Offices of Agre & St. John have the knowledge and experience to protect the rights of individuals facing traffic violations and criminal charges in New Jersey. Our dedicated legal team will work diligently and compassionately in order for you to receive the best possible representation. To arrange an initial consultation with one of our skilled and knowledgeable South Jersey traffic violation lawyers, call 856-428-7797 today or contact us online. The Law Offices of Agre & St. John is located in historic Haddonfield, New Jersey, where we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.