In recent years, much controversy has occurred over encounters between law enforcement and civilians during traffic stops. The officers expect compliance with their requests and their demands, but sometimes civilians may not comply as readily as the officers would like. Tempers can flare and a routine stop can become elevated into a more serious encounter. People have been hurt or even killed in some of these encounters gone wrong.
In order to address this growing problem, our Illinois Legislature passed a new law, which essentially requires all driver’s education programs, whether in a public school, private school, or a driver’s education company (for driver’s under 18 years of age) to include to address these issues, in Chicago and across Illinois. In their courses of study, they now need to include instruction concerning police procedures during traffic stops, including a demonstration of the proper actions to take, and how to properly interact with police during a traffic stop. This law is to take effect during the 2017-2018 school year for public and private schools, and June 30, 2017 for driver’s education schools when teaching someone under the age of 18.
What this education will consist of remains to be seen. It will, at a minimum, discuss police procedures that are utilized during a stop. Hopefully, it will include education as to the specific rights motorists have, such as the right to remain silent and not have to answer questions, the right to privacy in one’s person and vehicle, as well as education as to what police are able to do during a stop. Clearly, the course will teach people to not fight or argue with police during a stop, but to take any and all grievances they may have to court.
If we were teaching a course in how to interact with police during a traffic stop, it would certainly include information about what police are permitted to demand as well as merely request of you, and what you are obligated to provide, versus what you may refuse. For example, police may demand identification from any person operating a motor vehicle they have stopped for a perceived traffic violation. Failure to carry a valid driver’s license on one’s person when operating an automobile is, in and of itself, a potential misdemeanor violation. Police may ask you questions such as “where are you coming from,” or “where are you going” and the like, but you are not required to answer any such questions, as you do enjoy the right to remain silent (even when you are not under arrest).
If we were to simplify the approach to law enforcement confrontations in the area of a traffic stop, it would be to point out that when an officer orders you, or directs you, to do a certain thing (such as to exit the vehicle)you should comply without argument, even if you believe the officer may be violating your rights. The moment you are ordered to, or directed to do a certain thing, the officer will need to later show a valid legal basis for doing so in court, and the matter should be addressed at that time. But if an officer is merely asking for you to do a thing, you may always politely refuse to comply, as that is your right.
If you believe that your rights were violated during a traffic stop, and you have been charged with criminal or traffic offenses as a result, then you need the lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC to champion your cause in court. The lawyers here have years of experience protecting people’s rights in court against the encroachments of law enforcement. Call us today at (312) 644-0444 to schedule an in-office, absolutely free, no obligation, confidential consultation with one of our lawyers at our Chicago or other offices.