You borrowed a friend’s car. Unbeknownst to you, your friend had some legal troubles. When the police stopped the car, they ran a check on your license and discovered you had some legal trouble of your own. Can they do that?

According to a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, police conduct must be reasonably related to the reason for the stop. If you were breaking a traffic law or police smelled marijuana or saw an open beer bottle in the car, they would have grounds to detain you. However, if your only offense is driving someone else’s car, police could be barred from even asking to see your license.

In People v Cummings, police stopped a van driver because a check on the van’s expired license plate revealed that the owner had an outstanding arrest warrant. After asking for the defendant’s license, police found he had a suspended license and so charged him with driving on a suspended license.

However, the van’s owner was a woman while the driver was a man. The Court stated that once police saw that the driver could not be the van owner, they could not ask for defendant’s driver’s license: “Any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity vanished, and seizure became unlawful because there was no longer a fourth amendment justification for the stop.” As a result, the evidence regarding defendant’s arrest for driving on a suspended license was suppressed.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(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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