Police can stop you in Illinois for having an object dangling from your rearview mirror: State lawmaker aims to end that

Jennifer Geer

State Representative LaShawn Ford has filed a bill to repeal the law, which currently includes all objects including air fresheners, rosary beads, and even masks

In Illinois, it's illegal to have any object dangling from your rearview mirror, and police can pull anyone over in violation of the law. Whether it's a face mask, a high school graduation tassel, or an air freshener, you can be stopped by the police.

It's considered an obstruction of your view while driving, and it falls under an equipment violation, just like having a burnt-out tail light.

Pretextual traffic stops

Critics of the law call it a pretextual traffic stop. A pretextual traffic stop is when someone is pulled over for a minor offense. According to the ACLU in Illinois, the data shows these stops happen at a disproportionately higher rate to Black drivers.

Chicagoan Daunte Wright was shot and killed earlier this year in Minnesota. The ACLU of Minnesota believes that Wright was pulled over for a pretextual traffic stop, either expired tags or an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.

State lawmaker wants the law eliminated

Illinois State Representative Lashawn Ford (D-Chicago) is working with Democrat candidate for Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias to repeal the state law regarding objects dangling from rearview mirrors.

They plan to sponsor legislation in the General Assembly’s spring session to amend the Illinois Vehicle Code to put an end to the rearview mirror law. “Prohibiting traffic stops that encourage discriminatory practices will ultimately make our streets safer for drivers and police officers," said Giannoulias.

According to Ford, “We need to do everything we can to reduce the need for police interactions with people for non-violent and non-threatening violations.”

He continued, "Springfield must use taxpayers’ resources wisely to catch the violent criminals that make all our communities less safe by repealing laws like the air freshener ban.”

Only a handful of states, including Illinois, still have this law on the books. This October, the Philadelphia City Council passed the Driving Equality Bill which states minor offenses cannot be used as the only reason for pulling over a driver. If a driver is found to be in violation, they will be mailed a ticket, rather than pulled over on the scene.

Legitimate public safety stops would not be affected

According to Giannoulias and Ford, repealing the law would not mean officers could not stop people for legitimate safety issues or criminal activity.

A press release from Giannoulias stated, "Giannoulias and Representative Ford made clear that these efforts would not prohibit law enforcement officers from making legitimate public safety stops, especially in cases of reasonable suspicion or if the driver is suspected in criminal activity.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

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