Is Searching a ''Bag Thrown by Driver'' During Traffic Stop Legal ?
In Ramsey v. State, 806 S.W.2d 954 (Tex. App.--Austin 1991), an Austin police officer saw a car speeding down a city street at 2:00 a.m.
As the officer followed, the car cut through a business parking lot and, without stopping, turned onto a major thoroughfare.
The officer stopped the car.
As the officer walked up to the stopped car, he saw the driver, Ramsey, pick up a shaving kit and throw it onto the passenger-side floorboard.
Ramsey got out of his car at the officer's request and exhibited his driver's license.
Ramsey appeared to be disoriented and his eyes were glassy.
The officer believed he was intoxicated.
The officer removed the shaving kit from Ramsey's car and searched it, saying that he believed that it might contain a weapon. See 806 S.W.2d at 955.
The Texas Courts of Appeals concluded from this evidence that the officer had specific and articulable facts warranting a reasonable belief that Ramsey posed a danger if he were permitted to reenter his car, and that the officer acted reasonably in taking preventive measures to ensure that there were no weapons within Ramsey's grasp before allowing him to return to the car. See id. at 958.