Illinois DWI – Proper Action When Stopped by Law Enforcement

Being stopped by a law enforcement officer can be a stressful experience, but knowing what to do during the stop will help ensure your safety and the safety of others, including the officer. When you see emergency lights and/or hear sirens behind you:

• Slow down and safely pull over onto the right-hand shoulder of the roadway. If there is no shoulder or it is too narrow to pull over, find the next safest spot and pull over.

• Do not slam on the brakes or stop in the lane of traffic. You should not stop your vehicle on bridges; curves; next to guardrails, concrete walls or medians; or any place where it would be difficult for other vehicles to pass. Do not stop your vehicle too close to the solid white line, as oncoming traffic may strike it.

• Stay in your vehicle with both hands clearly in sight on your steering wheel. You should keep your hands on the steering wheel until the officer instructs you otherwise or the traffic stop is complete.

• Be prepared for the officer to approach your vehicle from either the driver or passenger side.

• Do not exit the vehicle unless asked to do so. Getting out of the vehicle can be perceived as aggressive behavior and a threat to the officer’s safety.

• Give the officer your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance if asked to do so. If the documents are out of reach, tell the officer where they are before you reach for them. Illinois law requires you to have a valid driver’s license, registration and insurance to operate a vehicle.

• If you cannot identify an unmarked police vehicle and/or the driver as law enforcement, you should drive slowly and carefully below the speed limit and either (1) pull over at a well-lit, populated location, (2) drive carefully to the nearest police station and attempt to attract the attention of a uniformed officer or (3) call 9-1-1. You should activate your hazard lights as a helpful way to communicate intentions with the officer.

• If you are being stopped at night, turn on your interior lights to help the officer see inside your vehicle. A traffic stop could indicate you have committed a minor traffic violation without realizing it. There could also be a problem with the vehicle of which you are unaware, or the vehicle may be like one used in a serious crime. Many officers will not provide you with specific reasons for the stop until they have obtained your vehicle registration, driver’s license and proof of insurance. If you are issued a ticket or arrested, you:

• Should not debate the reason for the stop or argue with the officer.

• Should not refuse to sign a ticket if issued. A traffic ticket requires your signature. Signing a ticket is not an admission of your guilt — only an acknowledgment of receiving the ticket.

• Should not be uncooperative with law enforcement at the scene. If you are suspected of impaired driving, refusal to submit to breath, urine, blood or performance tests can result in the loss of your driving privileges.

• Should not argue about the ticket at the time of issuance. If you believe an offense was not committed or the ticket was issued unfairly, you can present the case in traffic court.

• Should not resist arrest if taken into custody by law enforcement. A driver is to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement officers. If you believe that an officer has acted inappropriately during a traffic stop or other encounter, you should report the conduct as soon as possible to the officer’s superiors. Officers must provide their names and badge numbers upon request. Written complaints can be filed with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. Regardless of what action is taken, police officers are legally required to document all traffic stops, which includes obtaining your name and address for data collection purposes.


This information is from Illinois 2023 DUI Fact Book