Generally, you do not have the same privacy rights in a car that you would in your home. So while a trained narcotics dog may not sniff outside your apartment door, the dog may sniff around your car. Worse yet, police may order you to roll down your car windows and turn up the blowers so that the dog can get a better whiff.

A recent Illinois appellate case, People v Thomas, expressed reservations about this type of “setup” procedure, but the court felt bound by existing Illinois State Supreme Court law. The Illinois Supreme Court held in 2011 that opening the windows and blowing out the air was no more intrusive than the setup procedure used to permit a narcotics dog to smell a suitcase.

The Illinois Appellate court believes the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually overturn the legality of forcing a driver to blow out the air in their car. But in the meantime, it’s the law.

If you are charged with a criminal, traffic or DUI offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of the situation as any comment you make can be used against you. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Perhaps the police did not have probable cause to stop you in the first place. If so, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the arrest.

Even if the search and arrest were legal and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a better 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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