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Name: People v. Vibanco
Case #: H029524
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/30/2007

Officers may order a passenger to stay in a vehicle which is lawfully stopped, and may request identification. Appellant was the right rear passenger in a vehicle which was stopped by officers based on infractions relating to the vehicle’s condition. Appellant attempted to leave, but was ordered to stay and produce identification. Appellant gave the officer a forged driver’s license, and was later charged with related offenses. Following the trial court’s order granting his 1538.5 motion, the case was dismissed, and the prosecutor appealed. The appellate court reversed the order, finding that officers may, pursuant to a lawful traffic stop, order a passenger to stay or step out of the car for officer safety reasons, and may ask the passenger for identification. Here, the officers lawfully stopped the car, and were justified in ordering appellant back into the car, and then in ordering him to step outside and produce identification. The inquiry relating to one’s identity was not unreasonable under the circumstances and did not amount to a separate detention requiring separate justification. The request for identification did not unreasonably prolong the detention, nor was it an additional seizure. [Editor’s comment: The Attorney General’s position here — that the officer may order the passenger back into the car and request identification — is contrary to their argument presented in Brendlin, now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. There the California Attorney General argued that the passenger can be ordered out of the car, but nothing beyond that because the passenger is not “detained.”]