If police stop you for a traffic violation, they don’t need a reason to change the reason they stopped you. For example, they can stop you for speeding but then bring in a narcotics dog to sniff your car. However, if the dog sniff unduly prolongs the stop, a court may, in limited circumstances, suppress the evidence from the search.

But how do you know if your stop was unduly prolonged? The answer can be very fact specific. Courts focus on the reasonableness of the delay.

Generally, the stop cannot be prolonged past the time it reasonably takes to complete the mission of writing the ticket for the initial violation. A stop that exceeds the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the fourth amendment.

In People v. Paddy, the officer had finished the written warning but returned to the driver to ask for proof of insurance. Because the car was registered in another state, Illinois law did not require such proof. Therefore, the court said, the officer’s unjustified return to the car unduly prolonged the stop.

If you have been charged with a traffic violation or related offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If your stop was unduly prolonged, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from your stop. In limited situations, this could result in the dismissal of your case.

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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