Reeder & Brown, P.C.


When Can a Cop Pull Me Over in Illinois?

 Posted on January 31,2017 in Criminal Law

lawful traffic stop in illinois, Will County traffic lawyerThe sight of flashing emergency lights in your rearview mirror is never pleasant. Depending on your circumstances, you may feel annoyed that your travel is interrupted – or you may be terrified of what will happen next, especially if you just left a bar or party where alcohol was served. You may even be confused as to why you are being pulled over, especially if you believe you were driving in a safe and prudent manner. A knowledgeable Joliet defense attorney may need to examine the facts of your case to determine if the officer’s stop of your vehicle was lawful.

Reasonable Suspicion is Needed to Stop a Vehicle in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a law enforcement officer needs reasonable suspicion that you have committed or are in the process of committing a crime before he or she can stop your car and investigate. Reasonable suspicion requires something more than a mere “hunch” or “gut feeling” that you are connected to criminal activity. This is satisfied if at the time law enforcement stops you the law enforcement officer:

  • Saw you commit a crime or traffic infraction: If the law enforcement officer sees, for example, that your registration plate is expired or that your headlights are not working properly, this provides the law enforcement officer with reasonable suspicion and the officer may stop your vehicle.

  • Has specific facts suggesting you have committed or are committing a crime: So long as the officer can point to specific facts that support a reasonable inference you are committing a crime, the officer can stop your vehicle – even if you are not, in fact, committing a crime. For example, an officer who sees you weaving within your own lane of travel may have enough “specific facts” to stop your vehicle and investigate why you are weaving.

  • Has reliable information you have or are committing a crime: A law enforcement officer can even stop your vehicle if a reliable informant provides information suggesting you are connected to criminal activity.  The tipster does not always need to give his or her name for the tip to be considered reliable.  For instance, an officer may be able to stop your vehicle if he or she receives a tip from a “concerned motorist” in which the tipster accurately describes your car and claims to have witnessed you driving erratically or committing other traffic violations.

An officer who stops your car without first possessing reasonable suspicion justifying the stop may find that any other evidence he or she obtains after the stop – such as evidence suggesting you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – is suppressed by the court.

Contact a Joliet Defense Lawyer Today for Help

If you have been stopped by an Illinois law enforcement officer under questionable circumstances, you need to speak with an experienced Will County DUI and traffic defense attorney as soon as possible. Your good name, your ability to drive, and your freedom may all depend on whether the officer’s stop of your vehicle was legally justified. Contact Reeder & Brown, P.C. right away by phone or online to discuss your traffic stop and charges.


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