Most drivers were taught that if they are pulled over by a police officer, they should stay in their car. But there has never been a law on the books making it illegal for motorists to get out of their car after they are stopped by police.

A York County Republican in the statehouse is working to change that.

Rep. Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg, sponsored a measure, House Bill 220, that would make it a third-degree felony for someone to get out of their vehicle after being stopped by police.

The felony rating is akin to that of failing to stop a vehicle, Regan noted in a news release.

The bill passed out of the House 178-14 last week and is now in the Senate Transportation Committee. All York County representatives voted in favor.

Tool: A large majority of motorists stay in their cars during stops, but some do get out, said Chief Mark Bentzel of Northern York County Regional Police.

Some of those drivers run from police, setting off a foot chase, which is more dangerous for officers, the chief said.

Bentzel pointed to a recent police chase as an example. The chase never went over 25 mph, which allowed people in the suspect car to get out and run at various points during the chase, he said.

"It's hard to predict if any legislation prevents or deters people from committing certain crimes," Bentzel said, adding if the bill is signed into law, it would give prosecutors another tool in charging suspects.

But not all drivers who get out of vehicles have ill intentions. One scenario that could play out is that of a father-to-be driving his wife, who is in labor, to the hospital. The man runs a stop sign, is pulled over and gets out of the car to explain the situation to the officer.

Bentzel said he believes officers will use discretion in instances like that.

"I don't see that as a big issue," he said.

— Reach Greg Gross at

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