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When Can Police Search My Car in Illinois? 

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When Can Police Search My Car in Illinois? 
Published
September 29, 2021
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Pinkston Law Group PC
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Police officers pull citizens over all the time for minor traffic violations. Vehicle stops can become custodial arrests if a citizen has illegal contraband in the vehicle and the officer finds this contraband inside the vehicle.

Vehicle stops and the boundaries between citizens and police officers are governed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects the right of citizens to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.` 

If officers are going to search a person or a vehicle, then they must have a warrant unless the officer has probable cause to believe there is contraband or evidence of a crime present at the time of the search. If an officer violates the Fourth Amendment, then the evidence seized during any illegal search can be excluded and not considered by the judge or jury. You need an Illinois civil rights lawyer who can file the right motion to exclude such evidence. 

The Exceptions to The Warrant Requirement

Police officers often ask for consent to perform a search of a motor vehicle. If the driver consents to the search, then every part of the automobile can be searched. The glove box, trunk, and any closed containers within the automobile can be searched by the police officer. 

Every citizen has a constitutional right to refuse a police officer’s request to search an automobile. You can simply state that you would prefer that the officer did not search through your automobile. 

The plain view exception to the warrant requirement means that police officers can seize items they see in plain view if the officers reasonably believe the item in view is contraband. Anything out in the open that is in the plain view of the officer can be seized if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the item is illegal or could be evidence of a crime.

An inventory search is another exception to the warrant requirement. Police officers can impound a vehicle after an arrest and search its contents without a warrant while the vehicle is being inventoried. 

Many police departments inventory all the items within vehicles that have been inventoried. The policy justifying the inventory search warrant exception is to protect the officers and others from any dangerous items that may be inside the vehicle. The inventory search warrant exception also prevents an arrestee from filing claims that the police officers stole items from an automobile. If you have been subject to an illegal search or seizure, then contact the Pinkston Law Group, PC today. 

Other exceptions to the warrant requirement include the search incident to arrest exception, which allows an officer to search the person arrested and the area within the person’s immediate control. This is usually the wingspan of the arrestee. 

A Terry stop is another exception to the warrant requirement. If officers have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, they can stop an individual and ask questions while conducting a brief pat-down to make sure the person does not have any dangerous weapons. 

The hot pursuit and exigent circumstances exception applies when the police are pursuing a fleeing suspect and when the officers are involved in circumstances that demand immediate action. This exception is justified by the state’s obligation to ensure public safety. 

Speak with an Illinois Civil Rights Attorney

Contact the Pinkston Law Group, PC today to schedule a free consultation, during which we can review your case and examine how the Fourth Amendment applies to the facts of your case.

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