In this archive episode, Dennis explains that passengers cannot simply leave a motor vehicle stop. Recorded on 04/18/2018.
Brendlin V. California 2007 (Adopted by NJ) – A traffic stop entails a seizure of the driver even though the purpose of the stop is limited and the resulting detention is quite brief. The stop also entails a seizure of every passenger in the vehicle along with the driver.
Passengers unlawfully leaving a legal motor vehicle stop will be arrested and charged with obstructing.
State of NJ in the interest of DK 2006 – In DK the court held that a passengers incidental detention as a result of a valid motor vehicle stop is “Unchallengeable,” for, if a stop for a motor vehicle violation is reasonable, the police do not have to show an independent basis for detaining the passengers, unless the detention goes beyond what is incident to a brief motor vehicle stop.” See State v. Hickman
State of NJ v Sloane 2008 – https://caselaw.findlaw.com/nj-supreme-court/1146795.html
All of those reasons lead to the conclusion that when a police officer conducts a traffic stop of a private vehicle, the passenger as well as the driver are seized under both the federal and state constitutions. That holding is consistent with the majority of state court rulings on the issue. See State v. Bowers, 334 Ark. 447, 976 S.W.2d 379, 380-82 (1998); State v. Haworth, 106 Idaho 405, 679 P.2d 1123, 1124 (1984); People v. Bunch, 207 Ill.2d 7, 277 Ill.Dec. 658, 796 N.E.2d 1024, 1029 (2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 959, 124 S.Ct. 1712, 158 L.Ed.2d 399 (2004); State v. Eis, 348 N.W.2d 224, 226 (Iowa 1984); State v. Hodges, 252 Kan. 989, 851 P.2d 352, 361-62 (1993); State v. Carter, 69 Ohio St.3d 57, 630 N.E.2d 355, 360 (1994) (per curiam); State v. Harris, 206 Wis.2d 243, 557 N.W.2d 245, 251 (1996); see also Hickman, supra, 335 N.J.Super. at 634, 763 A.2d 330. But see People v. Jackson, 39 P.3d 1174, 1184-86 (Colo.2002) (en banc); State v. Mendez, 137 Wash.2d 208, 970 P.2d 722, 729 (1999) (en banc).
Applying that standard, Sloane was seized at the time of the traffic stop. When Officer Muzyka ordered Moore to stop her vehicle on the suspicion that she was driving with a suspended license, Sloane’s travel was curtailed. Sloane then got out of the car, and the officer promptly ordered him to return to it. Sloane complied. Apart from what any reasonable person might have thought, Sloane was, in fact, not free to leave. Although he was a passenger and not the driver, he was temporarily “seized.”