Can a police officer legally order me to exit my vehicle?
This is a question that is often asked, especially with the popularity of the “First Amendment auditors”. The answer is yes. The Supreme Court of the United States held in Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408 (1997) that a law enforcement officer may order all occupants of a vehicle to exit the vehicle pending completion of the traffic stop. This has been upheld by the Supreme Court of South Carolina in such cases as State v. Adams, 409 S.C. 641 (2014). The reason for this is to ensure officer safety. You are also required to present your driver’s license to a law enforcement officer upon demand per Section 56-1-190 stating “A licensee shall have his license in his immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall display it upon demand of an officer or agent of either the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Department of Public Safety or a law enforcement officer of the State.” If you fail to comply with a lawful order you may be charged with a violation of Section 56-5-740 stating “No person shall willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer, fireman or uniformed adult school crossing guard invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate traffic.” If you refuse a lawful order such as exiting your vehicle or failing to present your driver’s license at a traffic stop, you can be charged and arrested.