The U.S. Supreme Court says that they can under certain circumstances.
In Kansas v. Glover, an officer ran a check on a truck’s license plate which revealed that the truck’s owner, Glover, had a revoked license. Assuming Glover was the driver, the officer stopped the truck. The court held that a stop on this basis did not violate Glover’s constitutional rights: “When the officer lacks information negating an inference that the owner is driving the vehicle, an investigative traffic stop made after running a vehicle’s license plate and learning that the registered owner’s driver’s license has been revoked is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
While an officer must still have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing before making a traffic stop, an officer’s commonsense inference that a truck’s owner was likely to be its driver was enough.
While this case came from Kansas, the ruling still applies in Illinois.
If you have been charged with driving on a revoked license or similar offense, contact an experienced traffic court attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. The Supreme Court itself has said that its ruling is a narrow one. Your stop may not be legal if the officer had information contradicting his suspicion that a vehicle owner must be the driver. Even if the stop was reasonable and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(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.)