Challenging the Traffic Stop: Illegal Traffic Stops in Illinois

Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C.

In Illinois, a traffic stop by law enforcement is a common precursor to charges such as driving under the influence (DUI) or possession of contraband. However, not all traffic stops are conducted legally, and challenging the legality of a traffic stop can be a critical defense in a criminal case. This comprehensive guide delves into the nuances of illegal traffic stops in Illinois, detailing the relevant statutes, the process, and strategies for challenging unlawful police stops.

Understanding Traffic Stops Under Illinois Law

Legal Basis for Traffic Stops

Under Illinois law, specifically pursuant to the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-501), police officers are granted the authority to stop a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation has occurred or that a crime is being committed. Reasonable suspicion must be based on specific and articulable facts rather than mere hunches or unparticularized suspicions.

Relevant Illinois Statutes

625 ILCS 5/11-501: Covers driving under the influence and outlines the conditions under which law enforcement can make traffic stops and arrests for DUI.

725 ILCS 5/107-14: States that a police officer may stop any person in a public place when they reasonably suspect that the person is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime.

Convictions resulting from traffic stops can lead to severe penalties:

First DUI Offense: Up to one year in jail, fines of up to $2,500, and a minimum of one-year driver’s license revocation.

Subsequent Offenses: Increased penalties including longer jail terms, higher fines, and extended license suspensions or revocations.

Aggravated Circumstances: Such as a DUI resulting in bodily harm, death, or driving with a revoked license can lead to felony charges with even more severe consequences.

The Arrest Process

The Role of Probable Cause

For an arrest to be valid following a traffic stop, police must establish probable cause. This means there must be a reasonable basis supported by facts and circumstances within the officer’s knowledge that a crime has been committed.

Processing and Chemical Testing

After an arrest, suspects are typically taken to a police station where they undergo processing and are subjected to chemical testing for drugs or alcohol if DUI is suspected. The results of these tests play a crucial role in the prosecution’s case but are also subject to challenge in court.

Challenging Illegal Traffic Stops

Examining the Basis for the Stop

The first step in challenging a traffic stop is to scrutinize the reasons provided by the officer for initiating the stop. Your defense attorney can request police dashcam footage, the officer’s patrol log, and use witness statements to contest the validity of the supposed traffic violation or suspicious activity.

Motion to Suppress Evidence

If a traffic stop is deemed illegal, any evidence obtained as a result of that stop may be suppressed. This includes any subsequent chemical tests, contraband found, or statements made to police after the stop. A successful motion to suppress can lead to a significant reduction in the prosecution’s evidence, potentially resulting in dismissal of charges.

Having an experienced attorney is crucial when challenging the legality of a traffic stop. A skilled lawyer can effectively argue that the stop violated your constitutional rights, particularly your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Criminal Case Process

Pre-Trial Motions and Hearings

During pre-trial hearings, your attorney can present arguments and evidence to challenge the traffic stop. This phase is vital as it sets the groundwork for the defense strategy during the trial.


If the case goes to trial, the legality of the initial traffic stop often becomes a central issue. The defense will continue to challenge the prosecution’s evidence, relying on legal precedents and statutory interpretations that support the argument that the stop was unfounded.

If you’ve been stopped and subsequently charged with a DUI or another offense in Chicago, and you believe the stop was unjustified, it is imperative to seek legal assistance immediately. Challenging the stop can be a viable defense strategy that may significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Contact The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg for a robust defense strategy tailored to your specific situation. With extensive experience in challenging illegal traffic stops and defending clients against a variety of charges, we are equipped to ensure your rights are protected. Call us 24/7 at (312) 560-7100 or toll-free at (800) 803-1442 to schedule your free consultation. Serving clients throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Will County, and Lake County, we are committed to delivering the highest quality legal representation and achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients.

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