Home News Illinois passes law to teach new drivers what to do if stopped by police

Illinois passes law to teach new drivers what to do if stopped by police

September 12, 2016 at 11:30 am 12 News

A new Illinois law aims to help drivers answer the timely question of what to do if stopped by police.

The measure comes amid heightened tension in Chicago and across the nation over how traffic stops can go terribly wrong — and in the worst cases turn deadly.

Targeting the newest and youngest drivers, the law mandates that all driver’s education classes include a section on what to do during a traffic stop.

State Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, was a co-sponsor of the bill that sailed through the Illinois legislature and was signed into law last month by Gov. Bruce Rauner. She said it is more about common sense than innovation.

“Being pulled over by an officer is really stressful,” she said. “I think it’s really important, especially in this time that we’re in, that kids and new drivers learn what is expected when they are stopped by an officer, how to respond correctly, to be respectful, and hopefully that will make the encounter as least problematic as possible. I’m hoping it protects both the officer and the driver from things escalating.”

The lesson may be familiar to some of the 109,000 students statewide who are currently enrolled in a driver’s education program at a public high school, according to the Illinois secretary of state’s office. A section titled “Being Pulled Over by Law Enforcement” is part of the Illinois Rules of the Road handbook, which is published by the office. Driver’s education teachers in public schools are required to teach the Rules of the Road, though Morrison and others found that it wasn’t always happening.

Jim Archambeau, a driver’s education teacher in Chicago Public Schools, said he’s taught the lesson in his classes for years, each time accompanied by a visit from a police officer. He said he hopes the law will bring uniformity to what he deems an important lesson for novice drivers.

“The police officers tell the students what they like to see: ‘Hands on the wheel, window down, no sudden movements,’ ” he said. “When they ask for your license and registration, they like that you tell them where you’re going to get it from: ‘It’s in my pocket. It’s in my glove box. It’s above my visor.’ “

Archambeau, who serves as president-elect of the Illinois High School and College Driver Education Association, said a video that addresses the topic also would be helpful in the classroom.

The new law goes a step further by expanding the requirement to private driving schools, said Dave Druker, spokesman for the Secretary of State Jesse White’s office, which regulates the private driving schools. More than 40,000 people are enrolled in private driver’s education, Druker said.

White’s office is tasked with updating the curriculum that tackles how drivers should act during a traffic stop. Those guidelines will then be worked into an updated Rules of the Road handbook, which will be published in 2017, when the law is due to go into effect, Druker said. The secretary of state’s office will seek input from the Illinois State Police, he added.

“I think this can be a very positive thing,” Druker said. “It’s something Secretary White believes in very strongly.”

Despite its timing, the law wasn’t introduced in response to police shootings stemming from escalating traffic stops, said state Rep. Frances Ann Hurley, D-Chicago, who filed the bill in February.

“It was just to teach everybody the same thing,” Hurley said. “It’s an education bill. We want everybody to know what they’re supposed to do when they get pulled over by police. If it helps somewhere down the line, that’s wonderful.”

David Shapiro, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University, said he was appalled that the new law doesn’t include the rights of the new drivers, many of whom are minors. The responsibility is now on parents to educate themselves on those rights and talk to their children about them, he said.

“I think it’s a frightening bill for anyone who has kids who drive a car because it doesn’t say anything about the kids’ constitutional rights during a traffic stop,” Shapiro said. “Kids are the most vulnerable to getting pulled into the criminal justice system by overzealous police officers, and traffic stops are one of the main points of contact for pulling people in.”


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  1. Huffworld September 12, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I think this a wonderful idea. The problem with Mr. Shapiro’s argument about highlighting drivers rights is so many of these kids already have their parents chirping in their ears that they have the right to do this that and the other. If the drivers treat officers with respect and follow the instructions they aren’t going to get pulled into the justice system. You start pushing the Driver Rights over the officer’s lawful requests you end up with people like Korry Gaines who didn’t think she had to follow the laws of the road which then escalated into a tragic situation where she lost her life after pointing a gun at police officers.

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    • drillbeast September 12, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      I completely support law enforcement officers, but the education of both drivers and law enforcement as to what drivers rights and lawful request are would allow ant traffic stop to proceed from an base of mutual knowledge and expectations on both sides.
      There should be no resentment from law enforcement officers when someone raises the issue of their own rights. There are instances where LEO’s are not educated of a persons rights and also people who are not educated in what requests are lawful.
      It should be the LEO responsibility to know what is permitted and what is not and to be able to answer any question they may be asked about one’s rights.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser September 13, 2016 at 2:00 am

      True dat. They SHOULD come from a mentality of respect on both sides..

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    • lunchlady
      lunchlady September 16, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      I agree that it is a bad idea for the driver (kid or adult) to start off with demanding “rights” in a cop’s face, but I think they should teach it as “what your rights are AND AREN’T.” B/c many people think they have the right to resist/disobey until the stop is explained, and other things that lead to a bad outcome.

      We have all heard of instances where someone posing as a cop pulled women over in order to rape them, so the driver has the right to wait to pull over in a well lighted, public area, and the right to lower their window an inch at first, etc. Once arrested, the driver has the right to not say anything, to ask for a lawyer, to ask for a parent if they are a minor, etc.

      But, they don’t have the right understand before complying. Even if it is a wrongful arrest, that will all come out later.

      Drivers should be aware that this isn’t just to intimidate them. Officers put their life on the line every time they walk up to a driver’s window, b/c they have no way of knowing what’s awaiting them. It could be a kidnapper with a hostage, desperate to escape, a person with a record desperate not to go back to prison. It can be as scary for the officer as for the driver, so calmness is needed from both.

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  2. jwright September 12, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    This is a great idea. To add some humor see Chris Rock’s video “How not to get your *** beat by the police”. It is a UTube video that is humorous as you can imagine coming from Chris Rock, however the messages are real.

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  3. Kbuzz1 September 12, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    And if I dont abide by this, I get a ticket?
    Personally, if I get pulled over, I am going to have all that info in my hand well before the Police come up, window rolled down on both sides and hands on the wheel. Opening a glove box just gives a cop’s prying eye to assume that just maybe he saw something else in the box and that gives him the right to search – it is shakey but not unknown.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser September 12, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      I usually wait till they get bY the window before i reach anywhere. Less chance they get spooked.

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  4. cgretired September 12, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    This might be a real challenge in Chicago.

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    • lunchlady
      lunchlady September 16, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      I think this should be taught nationwide, and not just for drivers. It could be that cops need to talk to arrest someone who’s walking or sitting somewhere.

      People may not realize It can be as scary for the officer as for the driver, so calmness is needed from both.

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  5. oleteabag September 12, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Well, for openers, don’t jump out of the car and start fighting with the cop because you think cops have no right to stop your over-entitled behind for ANY reason. Or start moving your hands around like you’re groping/grabbing for something. Unless, you know, you’re trying to commit suicide by cop.

    Cops are understandably jumpy these days, what with all Obama’s of children running around MURDERING cops all over the country, thanks to him and BLM constantly telling them how all the cops are racist killers who are just looking for an excuse to MURDER them, and you know, how “oppressed” they all are.

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  6. augustawinter September 12, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    It’s a good idea because it’s needed. But it is another example of how some people have to be taught everything. They can’t figure anything out for themselves.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser September 13, 2016 at 2:03 am

      Heck, when i went through my school’s driver’s ed, this was something they spent several hours on… So when did it stop getting taught?

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