UPDATED July 25, 2023:  As of January 1, 2024, police will no longer be able to stop you for something hanging from your front windshield.  While you may not drive a motor vehicle with any objects suspended between  you and the front windshield which would materially obstruct your view, an officer can not stop or search you solely on that basis.  

Before you can be apprehended for DUI, police need a reasonable suspicion to stop your car. Of course, if you are weaving all over the road, driving the wrong way up the highway, or blowing traffic lights, the police have all the probable cause they need.

But what if your driving really isn’t that bad, and what draws their attention is that air freshener hanging from your rearview mirror, or taking too long to move off a green light? Is that enough? For the most part, yes.

In Illinois, even some of the most trivial traffic offenses can give police the reasonable suspicion of wrong doing required to perform an investigatory stop. In some cases, the behavior does not even violate Illinois law. Courts have upheld stops for:

1) Objects hanging from the rearview mirror like an airfreshener or bandana where police have a reasonable belief that the object constitutes a material obstruction.

2) Improper display of license plates where defendant had tinted plates or had posted his plate in his rear window.

3) Sitting 20 seconds or more at a green light.

4) Failing to stop completely behind the stop line at a red light

5) Stopping on the shoulder of the road with the emergency lights activated.

6) Driving away from a police roadblock.

If you are stopped for a minor offense that escalates into a DUI, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Maybe the officer lacked a reasonable basis to believe that cross hanging from your mirror really obstructed your view. Even if the stop is valid, the state must still prove you guilty of the DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. It may be harder to prove you were impaired if bad driving wasn’t the reason you were stopped.

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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