What are My Rights If I am Pulled Over During an Illinois Traffic Stop?
Traffic stops are one of the most common ways that police come into contact with the general public. According to data from the Stanford Open Policing Project, there were more than 12.7 million traffic stops conducted by state police in Illinois between 2011 and 2017. There are dozens of reasons why a police officer would want to pull you over. Maybe your tail light is out or you forgot to signal a lane change. Maybe the officer noticed that you were on your cell phone while you were driving. Maybe the officer suspects you are driving under the influence because your driving was erratic. Whatever the reason, there are certain rights that you have when you are pulled over by police.Police Must Have Reasonable Suspicion
If an officer pulls you over, they must have a reason for doing so. It is not lawful for an officer to perform a traffic stop for no reason. It is a violation of your Constitutional rights if they perform a stop without having reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime.You do not Have to Offer Up Information
When you are pulled over, the police officer will almost always ask for your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. This is information that you are legally required to give to the officer if he or she asks for it. During the stop, the police may also ask you other questions, such as where you are going to or coming from or if you have had anything to drink that night. These are questions that you do not – and should not – answer. Offering up any sort of information could be used against you later.You do not Have to Allow Police to Search Your Vehicle Without a Warrant
If a police officer asks you if they can search your vehicle, you have the right to refuse this search. Normally, an officer must have a warrant to search your vehicle, though there are exceptions to that rule. For example, the officer can search your vehicle if he or she can see something illegal in “plain view.”A Will County Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Rights
For most people, being pulled over by the police is a scary situation. It is important that you know your rights and the extent of the law if you are pulled over by police. If you have been arrested by police, you should immediately contact a Joliet, IL, criminal defense lawyer for assistance. At the Law Office of John S. Fotopoulos, P.C., we can help you make sure your rights are being protected throughout your case. Call our office today at 708-942-8400 to schedule a free consultation.