Lights in the Mirror Study Guide & Legal Companion

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This study guide provides you with code sections and cases that correspond to the procedures and actions of the police, drivers and passengers in the video. If you have a question about police procedure or your rights under the 4th Amendment, this guide is designed to give you a starting point find those answers.

Understanding how both police procedures and your rights are determined will make you a better informed driver and citizen. A full understanding of how statutes and Court decisions come together to form your rights and also limit the actions of the police, should lead to safe, mutually respectful, encounters between you and law enforcement.

Safety of the people is a paramount responsibility of law enforcement, if you believe your rights have been violated by a member of law enforcement, please report the matter to the leadership of the agency, the Illinois State Police or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Distracted Driving/Cell phone use

Under Section 5/12-610.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, all Illinois Graduated Driver’s License holders under the age of 19 are prohibited from driving on any road while using a wireless phone. This prohibition on cell phone use even applies to the use of hands free devices. An exception to this restriction on cell phone use applies in emergency situations. Traffic tickets for unlawful use of a wireless phone by a driver under 19 years of age also can lead to the suspension of driving privileges.

Producing License/Insurance

The Illinois Vehicle Code provides that a driver must carry a license and exhibit it when requested by a law enforcement official. 625 ILCS 5/6-112 (West 2006). This section states that a driver “shall display such license or permit if it is in his possession upon demand made, when in uniform or displaying a badge or other sign of authority, by a * * * police officer.” 625 ILCS 5/6-112. The Illinois Vehicle Code further provides, “Any person who fails to comply with a request by a law enforcement officer for display of evidence of insurance * * * shall be deemed to be operating an uninsured motor vehicle.” 625 ILCS 5/3-707(b).

Graduated Driver’s License – Passenger Restriction

Additionally, under Section 5/6-107 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, for the first twelve months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the driver may not operate a motor vehicle with more than one passenger who is under the age of 20, unless any additional passengers are siblings, step siblings, children, or stepchildren of the driver. No graduated driver's license holder under the age of 18 years can drive a motor vehicle with more than one passenger in the front seat or more passengers in the back seats than the number of available seat safety belts. Traffic tickets for violations of these passenger limitations also can lead to driver's license suspensions.

Temporary Detention of Passengers during a Traffic Stop

Arizona v. Johnson

Lemon Johnson was riding in the backseat of a car when it was pulled over by the state police in Sugar Hill, Arizona. The officers had scanned the license of the car and found that it had a "mandatory insurance suspension." Although the stop was solely predicated on the suspended license, the officers began to question the car's occupants, including Johnson, about gang activity in the area. Based on certain circumstantial evidence, such as Johnson's possession of a police scanner, the officers asked Johnson to exit the car so that they could question him further. Although Johnson was free to stay in the car, he voluntarily exited and a subsequent search of his person by the officers revealed a handgun and a small amount of marijuana. Based on evidence obtained during this search, Johnson was convicted and then appealed, arguing that the evidence recovered from the search should have been suppressed because the officers did not have probable cause to search him at the time of his arrest and therefore did so in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment.

Do officers violate the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures when, after making a routine traffic stop, they search an individual who is consensually conversing with those officers?

No. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court held that Mr. Johnson's encounter with police officers was not consensual and therefore did not violate his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The Court reasoned that lawful traffic stops entail the "temporary seizure of driver and passengers" that continues for the duration of the stop. Officer inquiries into matters unrelated to the stop do not transform the event into a "consensual" encounter whereby the driver or passenger is free to go as he or she pleases. Therefore, the police officers who frisked Mr. Johnson were not constitutionally required to depart the scene without first ensuring that he was not armed and dangerous, so long as they reasonably suspected he was armed and dangerous.

Brendlin v. California

Police stopped Karen Simeroth's car for having expired registration tabs. Bruce Brendlin, who had a warrant out for his arrest, was riding in the passenger seat. Police found methamphetamine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia in the car and on Simeroth's person. In a California trial court, Brendlin filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained at the traffic stop, claiming that the stop was an unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

When a vehicle is subject to a traffic stop, is a passenger in the vehicle "detained" for purposes of the Fourth Amendment?

Yes. In a unanimous opinion written by Justice David Souter, the Court held that when a vehicle is stopped at a traffic stop, the passenger as well as the driver is seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The justices said, "We resolve this question by asking whether a reasonable person in Brendlin's position when the car stopped would have believed himself free to 'terminate the encounter' between the police and himself." The Court held that Brendlin would have reasonably believed himself to be intentionally detained and subject to the authority of the police.

Loud Music Restriction

(625 ILCS 5/12-611) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 12-611)

Sec. 12-611. No driver of any motor vehicle within this State shall operate or permit operation of any sound amplification system which can be heard outside the vehicle from 75 or more feet when the vehicle is being operated upon a highway, unless such system is being operated to request assistance or warn of a hazardous situation.

This Section does not apply to authorized emergency vehicles.

Any violation of the provisions of this Section shall be a petty offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $50.



Federal prohibition officers arranged an undercover purchase of liquor from George Carroll, an illicit dealer under investigation, but the transaction was not completed. They later saw Carroll and a passenger driving on the highway from Detroit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which they regularly patrolled. They pursued, pulled them over, and searched the car, finding illegal liquor behind the rear seat.

The Court noted that Congress early observed the need for a search warrant in border search situations, and Congress always recognized a necessary difference between searches of buildings and vehicles for contraband goods, where it is not practical to secure a warrant, because the vehicle can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought. The warrantless search under these circumstances was thus valid.

The Court held, however, that

[i]t would be intolerable and unreasonable if a prohibition agent were authorized to stop every automobile on the chance of finding liquor, and thus subject all persons lawfully using the highways to the inconvenience and indignity of such a search.... [T]hose lawfully within the country, entitled to use the public highways, have a right to free passage without interruption or search unless there is known to a competent official, authorized to search, probable cause for believing that their vehicles are carrying contraband or illegal merchandise


David Long was questioned by police after driving his car off a road and into a shallow ditch in Barry County, Michigan. Officers said he acted erratically and that he, "appeared to be under the influence of something." Noticing a hunting knife on the floor of the car, they conducted a "Terry" protective pat down, but they turned up no weapons. They then conducted a "protective search" of the car with the same justification: searching for weapons. Inside the car, police found an exposed bag of marijuana. In the trunk they found approximately 75 pounds more, and Long was arrested for drug possession.

The protective search of the passenger compartment of respondent's car was reasonable. Protection of police and others can justify protective searches when police have a reasonable belief that the suspect poses a danger. Roadside encounters between police and suspects are especially hazardous, and danger may arise from the possible presence of weapons in the area surrounding a suspect.

The circumstances of this case justified the officers in their reasonable belief that respondent posed a danger if he were permitted to reenter his vehicle. Nor did they act unreasonably in taking preventive measures to ensure that there were no other weapons within respondent's immediate grasp before permitting him to reenter his automobile. The fact that respondent was under the officers' control during the investigative stop does not render unreasonable their belief that he could injure them

Thus, the search of the passenger compartment of an automobile, limited to those areas in which a weapon may be placed or hidden, is permissible if the police officer possesses a reasonable belief based on specific and articulable facts which, taken together with the rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the officer to believe that the suspect is dangerous and the suspect may gain immediate control of weapons. If, while conducting a legitimate search of an automobile's interior, the officer discovers contraband other than weapons, he cannot be required to ignore the contraband, and the Fourth Amendment does not require its suppression in such circumstances.


(725 ILCS 5/107-14) (from Ch. 38, par. 107-14) Sec. 107-14. Temporary questioning without arrest.

(a) A peace officer, after having identified himself as a peace officer, may stop any person in a public place for a reasonable period of time when the officer reasonably infers from the circumstances that the person is committing, is about to commit or has committed an offense as defined in Section 102-15 of this Code, and may demand the name and address of the person and an explanation of his actions. Such detention and temporary questioning will be conducted in the vicinity of where the person was stopped.

(b) Upon completion of any stop under subsection (a) involving a frisk or search, and unless impractical, impossible, or under exigent circumstances, the officer shall provide the person with a stop receipt which provides the reason for the stop and contains the officer's name and badge number.



After a Maryland state trooper stopped the speeding car in which he was riding, a nervous Wilson was ordered to step out. As he did, a quantity of cocaine fell on the ground. When arrested for possession with intent to distribute, Wilson challenged the manner in which the evidence against him was obtained.

Did Maryland's state trooper violate the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure guarantees by ordering Wilson, a mere passenger in the suspect vehicle, to exit the car during a traffic stop?

No. The Court held that after lawfully stopping a speeding vehicle, an officer may order its passengers to step out. While burdening their personal liberty somewhat, officers must be permitted such authority over passengers if the overriding government's interest in officer safety is to be protected.


This case arose when two Philadelphia police officers pulled over the defendant, Harry Mimms, for driving with an expired license plate. After asking Mimms to exit the car, the officers noticed an unusual bulge underneath his jacket. One of the officers searched Mimms and discovered a loaded .38-caliber revolver. Mimms was charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon and unlawfully carrying a firearm without a license.

Do police officers violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures when, during a routine traffic stop, they obtain evidence through a search conducted after asking the suspect to exit the vehicle without a justifiable reason to do so?

No. In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that the search did not violate Mimms' rights under the Fourth Amendment. The Court noted that the officers had already detained Mimms in order to issue him a traffic summons and felt that asking him to exit the vehicle was a minimal and reasonable intrusion of his freedom. Whether the search occurred inside or outside the car was irrelevant to the Court: the officers had stopped Mimms for a legitimate reason and, upon observing the bulge in his jacket, any person of reasonable caution would have conducted the search.



Terry and two other men were observed by a plain clothes policeman in what the officer believed to be "casing a job, a stick-up." The officer stopped and frisked the three men, and found weapons on two of them. Terry was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and sentenced to three years in jail.

Was the search and seizure of Terry and the other men in violation of the Fourth Amendment?

In Terry, the Court held that the search undertaken by the officer was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment and that the weapons seized could be introduced into evidence against Terry. Attempting to focus narrowly on the facts of this particular case, the Court found that the officer acted on more than a "hunch" and that "a reasonably prudent man would have been warranted in believing [Terry] was armed and thus presented a threat to the officer's safety while he was investigating his suspicious behavior." The Court found that the searches undertaken were limited in scope and designed to protect the officer's safety incident to the investigation



On November 9, 1989, while exiting an apartment building with a history of cocaine trafficking, Timothy Dickerson spotted police officers and turned to walk in the opposite direction. In response, the officers commanded Dickerson to stop and proceeded to frisk him. An officer discovered a lump in Dickerson's jacket pocket, and, upon further tactile investigation, formed the belief that it was cocaine. The officer reached into Dickerson's pocket and confirmed that the lump was in fact a small bag of cocaine. Consequently, Dickerson was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

When a police officer detects contraband through his or her sense of touch during a protective patdown search, does the Fourth Amendment permit its seizure and subsequent introduction into evidence? Was the police officer who frisked Dickerson adhering to the Fourth Amendment when he formed the belief, through his sense of touch, that the lump in Dickerson's jacket pocket was cocaine?

Yes and No. In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Byron R. White, the Court recalled that a police officer may seize contraband when it is in plain sight, and "its incriminating character is immediately apparent". It held that instances in which an officer uses the sense of sight to discover illegal goods are analogous to those involving the sense of touch. The Court also reasoned that the tactile detection of contraband during a lawful pat-down search does not constitute any further invasion of privacy, therefore warrantless seizure was permissible. The Court also concluded that the police officer frisking Dickerson stepped outside the boundaries outlined in Terry v. Ohio which requires a protective pat-down search to involve only what is necessary for the detection of weapons. In fact the officer was already aware that Dickerson's jacket pocket did not contain a weapon, when he detected the cocaine through further tactile investigation.



After pulling Sandra Haughton's friend over during a routine traffic stop, a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer noticed a needle in the driver's shirt pocket. Upon learning that the needle was used for drugs, the officer searched the car and Haughton's purse, where he found more drug paraphernalia. Haughton challenged her subsequent arrest on drug charges, alleging that the officer's search of her purse was unconstitutional.

May police officers, with probable cause to search a car, inspect personal items belonging to its passengers without violating the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches?

Yes. In a 6-to-3 decision the Court held that so long as there is probable cause to search a stopped vehicle, all subsequent searches of its contents are legal as well. The Court added that such searches are especially warranted if aimed at looking into objects or personal belongings capable of concealing items that are the object of the search.



Larry Hiibel was arrested and convicted in Nevada state court for failing to identify himself to a police officer who was investigating an assault. Nevada, and many other states, has a law that requires a person to tell an officer his name if asked. Hiibel challenged the conviction, claiming it violated his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself and his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches.

Did Hiibel's arrest and conviction for not telling a police officer his name violate his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself and his Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search?

No. In an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court ruled that the search did not violate the Fourth Amendment because it was based on reasonable suspicion (the police officer was investigating the assault, and Hiibel was nearby) and involved only a minimally intrusive question (his name). It also did not violate the Fifth Amendment because Hiibel never argued that telling the officer his name would actually incriminate him of any crime. Justice Kennedy wrote, "While we recognize petitioner's strong belief that he should not have to disclose his identity, the Fifth Amendment does not override the Nevada Legislature's judgment to the contrary absent a reasonable belief that the disclosure would tend to incriminate him."


A person shall not drive a vehicle upon any highway at a speed which is greater than is reasonable and proper with regard to traffic conditions and the use of the highway, or endangers the safety of any person or property. 625 ILCS § 5/11-601(a)

No person may drive a vehicle upon any highway of this State at a speed which is greater than the applicable statutory maximum speed limit established by paragraphs (c), (d), (e), (f) or (g) of this Section, by Section 11-605 or by a regulation or ordinance made under this Chapter.

Obstructed View

(625 ILCS 5/12-503) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 12-503)

Sec. 12-503. Windshields must be unobstructed and equipped with wipers. (c) No person shall drive a motor vehicle with any objects placed or suspended between the driver and the front windshield, rear window, side wings or side windows immediately adjacent to each side of the driver which materially obstructs the driver's view.

Wearing Safety Belt

(625 ILCS 5/12-603.1) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 12-603.1)

Sec. 12-603.1. Driver and passenger required to use safety belts, exceptions and penalty.

(a) Each driver and passenger of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this State shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat safety belt.

Pulling Over in a Safe Spot

You should always seek a safe spot to pull over, once a law enforcement officer has activated their emergency lights.

If a safe, well lighted spot is an not immediately available , you should reduce your speed and activate your emergency flashers until you arrive in a safe well lighted location.

Special thanks to the Illinois Secretary of State, The Illinois Appellate Prosecutors Office, and The Illinois Law Enforcement Standards and Training Board

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