Kansas City, MO asked in Criminal Law, Traffic Tickets, Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for Arkansas

Q: Do i have to get out of the car if they wont tell me why and they say im not detained?

cop came from nowhere..chased up behind me with another cop in 2nd car with them saying the stop was for fictisous tags originally. wasnt possible so then he says my air freshner. asks me and the 2 pass. for I.ds..told him my tags was good. gave reg. &told my name cuz left my i.d at home. came back told me to get out the car. I ask why he says he dont have to tell me why so i ask if im being detained and the cop said NO just get out the car...case law says he dont have 2 give me any reason even though he never ran my tags til after the stop and i gave him the vehicle info. I know bc. my tags and registration are legit. my insurance wasnt. he wouldve knew that had he run them. He was very hostile as well..Searched car forever then let me leave. no tickets, never brought up the tags again except when he said that was y he stopped me...

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Arkansas, during a traffic stop, a police officer typically has the authority to ask the driver and passengers to exit the vehicle. This is based on officer safety considerations. However, the reason for the traffic stop should be clear. In your case, if the reason for the stop was initially for fictitious tags and then changed to an issue with an air freshener, this could raise questions about the validity of the stop.

If you're told you're not being detained but are asked to get out of the car, it creates a confusing situation. Generally, if you're not detained, you should be free to leave. However, during a traffic stop, police might have lawful reasons to request you to step out of the vehicle.

The search of the car is another issue. Without your consent, a warrant, probable cause, or certain exigent circumstances, searching your car might not be justified.

Given the complexity of your situation, especially regarding the change in the stated reason for the stop and the subsequent search, it would be wise to consult with an attorney. An attorney can review the specifics of your encounter and advise you on your rights and any potential legal remedies.

Document everything about the incident as accurately as possible, including the officers' names, badge numbers, and any witness statements. This information can be crucial if you pursue any legal action.

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