Was My Traffic Stop And Search Of My Car Illegal?

Unlawful Traffic Stops And Illegal Searches And Seizure By Police

Police officers are normally not allowed to search a car during traffic stops, however it can be easy to give the officer a valid reason to search a car if the driver is not careful. If an officer observes a driver trying to hide or throw something out of the window, the officer may legally search the car. If the driver appears to hunch down in their seat, the officer may reasonably believe they are hiding something under the seat. The above are only a few examples of driver behavior that can provide the officer with a valid reason to search a car.

Unlawful Chicago Traffic Stop

An officer may stop a vehicle at a roadside safety check or for a legitimate reason, known as probable cause; reasonable suspicion or unusual operation. Without probable cause, a stop that is made by an officer may be considered unlawful. For example, officers cannot conduct a drinking under the influence (DUI) stop because they have suspicions about a driver, they must have strong reasons for stopping the vehicle such as weaving in between traffic lanes. If you are facing Chicago drunk driving charges, speak with a Chicago lawyer to determine if your traffic stop was lawful.

If it is proven that police made an unlawful DUI stop, any evidence they gathered against a driver may be dismissed. This means that breath test results and field sobriety test results can no longer be used as evidence against a driver during their Illinois DUI case. In some cases, drivers’ DUI charges may be dismissed altogether based upon the fact that they were subjected to unlawful police stops. It’s key to your defense that your Illinois DUI lawyer leave no stone unturned.

Illegal Search And Seizure

The police may not search a vehicle unless there is a reasonable suspicion that it contains evidence, illegal items, or stolen goods. Unless the police have a reasonable suspicion that a driver is involved in a criminal activity, the police may not stop and frisk the driver. If they have a reasonable suspicion, they may pat down an individual’s outer clothing if they are concerned that they might be concealing a weapon.

If an officer has probable cause they can search a vehicle. During the traffic stop, if the officer sees something in plain view, then the officer is allowed to inspect it and any other objects the officer comes across can be legally seized as well. Common examples of items in plain view include open beer cans, wine bottles and drug paraphernalia.

When the driver or a passenger are arrested, the police may legally search the car if circumstances permit. If you have questions, speak with a qualified Chicago lawyer to determine if evidence can be allowed. Police are required to follow strict procedures when it comes to these types of searches.

Probable Cause To Search A Vehicle

Probable cause refers to the requirement in criminal law that police have adequate reason to arrest someone, conduct a search, or seize property relating to an alleged crime.

Probable cause to arrest, search, or seize property, including vehicles, exists when facts and circumstances known to the police officer would lead a reasonable person to believe that the individual to be arrested has committed a crime; that the place or vehicle to be searched was the scene of a crime; that the place or vehicle to be searched contains evidence of a crime; and/or that property or vehicle to be seized is contraband, stolen, or constitutes evidence of a crime.


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