Tri States Public Radio Staff
The People v Hackett
Mon July 9, 2012
High Court: A Swerve Justifies Traffic Stop
The Illinois Supreme Court has issued a ruling that says police can pull someone over for a DUI stop even if the driver drifts only slightly out of his/her lane.
The case dates back to 2008, when a Will County Sheriff's deputy saw Dennis Hackett twice move his car from the left lane "slightly" into the right lane.
The deputy pulled over Hackett and arrested him on drunken driving charges.
But a Will County judge ruled the deputy did not have sufficient reason to make the traffic stop. The decision was upheld by the appellate court so prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to intervene.
Earlier this year, Assistant Attorney General David Iskowich argued police have to be able to respond to even slightly swerving drivers.
"It's important that drivers pay attention to what they are doing, and one of the most important ways to pay attention is to remain within your lane line," said Iskowich
The high court justices sided with prosecutors.
In a unanimous opinion, they said the law on improper lane usage has no distance requirement. As long as there are no potholes or other obstacles, even a brief swerve can justify a stop.
The decision means the DUI case against Dennis Hackett can continue in Will County court.
Thanks to Illinois Public Radio