The Illinois State Police (ISP) have announced, in a press release, that they intend to conduct a roadside safety check in Cook County starting at 11 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 3 and concluding at 4 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4.
The ISP roadside safety check will be conducted on the northbound Tri-State Tollway (I-294) exit ramp to Halsted Street. These roadside safety checks are excuses to stop and scrutinize motorists. Otherwise, there would otherwise be no reason to stop motorists. These roadside safety checks include sobriety checks, license and registration verification, possession of insurance, proof of citizenship, and seatbelt usage. The main targets are DUI and Driving While Suspended.
ISP policy calls for zero tolerance for impaired driving in the state of Illinois. Thus, officers working this roadside safety check detail will be watching for drivers who may be operating their motor vehicles in an unsafe manner, driving their motor vehicles with a suspended or revoked driver's license, transporting open alcoholic beverages in their vehicles or driving under the influence (DUI). Law enforcement officers do not have the legal authority to search you or your vehicle without probable cause that you have or are committing a crime. They may ask your permission for a search, which means they do not have legal grounds to force a search.
Never allow law enforcement officers to conduct a voluntary search of your person or your vehicle. Law enforcement officers may try to cajole you into permitting a search by suggesting, "if you don't have anything to hide, why object to a search?" This taunt should be ignored or met with a response that you value your right to privacy and do not consent to a search of your vehicle. If, under any set of circumstances, law enforcement officers force a search of your vehicle, assume the worse case scenario.
The ISP press release suggested that alcohol and drug impairment is a significant factor in nearly 40 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in the state of Illinois. The ISP press release also suggested that roadside safety checks are designed to keep roads in the state of Illinois safe by identifying and taking dangerous DUI offenders off the road. We do not agree. In fact, most DUI arrests at so-called "Roadside Safety Checks" are of people who have exhibited no difficulty driving whatsoever.
When you are first approached at the roadside safety check, open your window slightly and wait for a law enforcement officer to make a statement or ask questions. If the officer simply offers a canned explanation for the roadside safety check and asks to see your license, have it ready to hand to him. If the officer asks any further questions, you should politely decline to enter into a discussion. If the officer persists, ask for the return of your license and ask if you may leave.
It's important not to answer any questions other than providing your license, insurance and registration, no matter how harmless. Your willingness to answer some questions, but not others, will raise suspicion. Worse yet is to give incriminating answers to seemingly routine questions. If you set the stage in a manner that it is clear you are not going to answer questions, period, there can be no defensible reason for detaining you, based on what you said. By law, you are not obligated to answer these kinds of questions and you cannot be detained simply because you refuse to answer the questions of the officers at a roadside safety check. If directed to pull over for further investigation, follow the directive of the officer and pull over if ordered out of your vehicle, you should exit the vehicle. You are not required to submit to field sobriety tests or a breath test, preliminary or otherwise.
The roadside safety checks are funded through the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety.
The attorneys at Fagan, Fagan & Davis have defended countless clients against charges of DUI, Driving While Suspended and other criminal charges in Chicago area courts, including those located in Cook County, DuPage County and Lake County. Our attorneys understand which defense strategies are the most effective in court and how to challenge evidence gathered by law enforcement and offered by the prosecution. Contact us now for a free consultation.