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

Because a driver could easily take off with the evidence before police have time to get a warrant, police are allowed to search your car as long as probable cause exists to believe that your car contains evidence of criminal activity. The search may include any interior compartment of the vehicle that might reasonably contain the contraband.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did the police have the necessary probable cause or did they search outside the limits of the suspected contraband? If so, 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. An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may be better able to 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 email

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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