Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 8 (1997)

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Cite as: 519 U. S. 408 (1997)

Stevens, J., dissenting

for ordering the driver out, the additional intrusion on the passenger is minimal. We therefore hold that an officer making a traffic stop may order passengers to get out of the car pending completion of the stop.3

The judgment of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland is reversed, and the case is remanded for proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Kennedy joins, dissenting.

In Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U. S. 106 (1977) (per curiam), the Court answered the "narrow question" whether an "incremental intrusion" on the liberty of a person who had been lawfully seized was reasonable. Id., at 109. This case, in contrast, raises a separate and significant question concerning the power of the State to make an initial seizure of persons who are not even suspected of having violated the law.

My concern is not with the ultimate disposition of this particular case, but rather with the literally millions of other cases that will be affected by the rule the Court announces. Though the question is not before us, I am satisfied that— under the rationale of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968)—if a police officer conducting a traffic stop has an articulable suspicion of possible danger, the officer may order passengers to exit the vehicle as a defensive tactic without running afoul of the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, I assume that the facts recited in the majority's opinion provided a valid justi-3 Maryland urges us to go further and hold that an officer may forcibly detain a passenger for the entire duration of the stop. But respondent was subjected to no detention based on the stopping of the car once he had left it; his arrest was based on probable cause to believe that he was guilty of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The question which Maryland wishes answered, therefore, is not presented by this case, and we express no opinion upon it.


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