The answer is yes, if the search falls under the “automobile exception” to the warrant requirement.

Because automobiles are mobile, a driver could easily take off with the evidence before police have time to get a warrant. Therefore, the automobile exception allows officers to search your car without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe your car contains evidence of criminal activity. The search may include any interior compartment of the vehicle that might reasonably contain a particular type of contraband. For example, an officer looking for open alcohol cannot search a coin box.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately.  Did the police have probable cause to believe your car contained evidence of criminal activity?  Did the police search areas other than those that might reasonably contain the contraband?  If police went beyond the limits authorized by the automobile exception, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to suppress the results of any unlawful search.

Note that determining whether a police search violated the law is very fact specific, and different judges can weigh those facts very differently.  Therefore, it is important to have an attorney who is familiar with the courthouse and can better present your particular situation.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or

Reference:   People v. Davis

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)


About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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