Police stop and search vehicles every day in Illinois. If your vehicle is stopped and searched by law enforcement, it may be difficult to determine whether or not your rights were violated. Vehicle stops and searches in Illinois are based on the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, search warrants, and the plain view doctrine. Each stop, search, and encounter with law enforcement is unique and fact specific.
Lawful Vehicle Stops
A police officer may stop a car if they have reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity. For example, if an officer observes a driver violating a traffic law, they may lawfully stop the vehicle. Some law enforcement roadblocks, such as DUI checkpoints, may also constitute a lawful stop. If stopped, you are required by law to provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. However, the lawful stopping of a vehicle does not grant the officer an automatic right to search your vehicle. Without probable cause (subject to a few exceptions), the officer will need your express permission to search your car. Your permission must be voluntary, or without any type of coercion.