Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 10 (1997)

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

Stevens, J., dissenting

by an order commanding the passengers to exit.2 There is no indication that the number of assaults was smaller in jurisdictions where officers may order passengers to exit the vehicle without any suspicion than in jurisdictions where they were then prohibited from doing so. Indeed, there is no indication that any of the assaults occurred when there was a complete absence of any articulable basis for concern about the officer's safety—the only condition under which I would hold that the Fourth Amendment prohibits an order commanding passengers to exit a vehicle. In short, the statistics are as consistent with the hypothesis that ordering passengers to get out of a vehicle increases the danger of assault as with the hypothesis that it reduces that risk.

Furthermore, any limited additional risk to police officers must be weighed against the unnecessary invasion that will be imposed on innocent citizens under the majority's rule in the tremendous number of routine stops that occur each day. We have long recognized that "[b]ecause of the extensive regulation of motor vehicles and traffic . . . the extent of police-citizen contact involving automobiles will be substantially greater than police-citizen contact in a home or office." Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U. S. 433, 441 (1973).3 Most traffic

2 I am assuming that in the typical case the officer would not order passengers out of a vehicle until after he had stopped his own car, exited, and arrived at a position where he could converse with the driver. The only way to avoid all risk to the officer, I suppose, would be to adopt a routine practice of always issuing an order through an amplified speaker commanding everyone to get out of the stopped car before the officer exposed himself to the possibility of a shot from a hidden weapon. Given the predicate for the Court's ruling—that an articulable basis for suspecting danger to the officer provides insufficient protection against the possibility of a surprise assault—we must assume that every passenger, no matter how feeble or infirm, must be prepared to accept the "petty indignity" of obeying an arbitrary and sometimes demeaning command issued over a loud speaker.

3 See also New York v. Class, 475 U. S. 106, 113 (1986); South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U. S. 364, 368 (1976); cf. Whren v. United States, 517 U. S. 806, 810, 818 (1996).


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