Arizona v. Johnson (2009) 555 US 232

Passengers Ordered Out; Terry Frisk; Prolonged Detention

Passengers could be ordered to get out during a traffic stop and the interest in officer safety allowed for patdowns for weapons if the officer reasonably concluded the passenger could be armed and dangerous. Respondent was lawfully detained incident to the valid stop of the car in which he was a passenger. It was unrealistic to characterize the officer/respondent interaction as “consensual.” The encounter took place within minutes of the stop, the patdown followed within moments of respondent’s exit from the car, and the point at which he could have felt free to leave had not yet occurred. The officer’s inquiries into gang activity matters, unrelated to the justification for the traffic stop, did not convert the encounter into something other than a lawful seizure, since the inquiries did not measurably extend the stop’s duration. Nothing could have conveyed to respondent that, prior to the frisk, the stop had ended or that he was otherwise free to leave without permission. The officer was not constitutionally required to give him an opportunity to leave after he exited the car without first ensuring that, in so doing, she was not permitting a dangerous person to get behind her.