New Ill. Law Aims to Train Drivers on What to Do if Stopped by Police

Police cars on-site during a protest through the streets of St. Paul, Minn., on July 7, 2016, after the death of Philando Castile. Castile was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop July 6, 2016, in Falcon Heights, Minn.
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Illinois has a new law intended to help drivers figure out what to do if they are stopped by police, the Chicago Tribune reports.

As the site notes, the new piece of legislation comes in the middle of widespread tension over how traffic stops can often escalate and even be deadly.


The bill, which was signed into law last month by Gov. Bruce Rauner, targets new drivers, requiring that all driver's-education classes include a section teaching students what to do during a traffic stop.

"Being pulled over by an officer is really stressful," Democratic state Sen. Julie Morrison, a co-sponsor of the bill, told the Tribune. "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 Tribune notes that students currently enrolled in a driver's-education program at a public high school may be familiar with the section titled "Being Pulled Over by Law Enforcement," which is now part of the Illinois Rules of the Road handbook.

One driver's-ed teacher in Chicago Public Schools, Jim Archambeau—who often includes a visit from a police officer in his classes—said he hopes that the information will help new students, as well.


"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.’”

Private driving schools are also required to include the section. However, Democratic state Rep. Francis Ann Hurley, who filed the bill back in February, said that despite the timing of the law, it was not introduced as a response to police shootings arising from escalated traffic stops.


"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."

However, attorney David Shapiro with the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University told the Tribune that he was concerned that the new law doesn't include much information about the rights of the drivers.


"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."

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.  

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