You were driving down the road when you thought you saw an animal so you slammed on your brakes. Then you noticed a police car behind you. After a few blocks, the officer stopped you, even though your driving was just fine despite having had a few beers. Can the officer still make the stop?
To stop you, an officer needs a reasonable suspicion based on articulable facts present at the time of the stop. However, under certain circumstances, that reasonable suspicion can disappear or dissipate. Dissipation usually occurs when suspicion is based (1) on the vehicle’s appearance such as a license plate that at first appears missing, or (2) when information is related to the car’s owner, such as the owner has a suspended license, but the driver is not the owner.
Illinois courts have not fully addressed whether driving well after you aroused an officer’s suspicion is enough to dissipate that suspicion. Some case law suggests that good driving after an officer observes other signs of DUI is not enough to make your stop illegal. However, a judge might still find that an abrupt stop by itself does not provide reasonable suspicion.
Whether an officer legally stopped you is a highly fact-based issue which different judges may see very differently. An experienced attorney who is familiar with your courthouse may be able to present your case in its most favorable light to your particular judge. The attorney can petition the court to suppress your stop which, if successful, at times results in your case’s dismissal.
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reference: People v. Tennort.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)
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