After you were arrested for DUI, the officers impounded and searched your car. The search yielded several capsules of an illegal narcotic. The officers did not have a warrant. You are now charged with possession with intent to deliver as well as DUI. Was the search of your car legal?

The answer is generally yes. Officers are allowed to perform an inventory search without a warrant. The search, however, must satisfy three criteria:

  1. The original impoundment of the vehicle must be lawful;
  2. The purpose of the inventory search must be to protect the defendant’s property, to protect the police against allegations of theft or damage, or to protect the police from danger; and
  3. The inventory search must be conducted in good faith and not as a pretext for an investigatory search.

If any of the three criteria are missing, you may be able to suppress the evidence from the search.

For example, in People v. Davis, Illinois law required police to impound a defendant’s vehicle for driving on a revoked license without proof of insurance. However, the police never asked the defendant for his insurance. As a result, the court found the original impoundment of the vehicle was not lawful.

If you have been charged with a DUI or a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did police have probable cause to arrest you? Was the search of your vehicle legal? Even if the police acted lawfully 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 can 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

(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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