(The Center Square) – Lawmakers have advanced a bill in Illinois that would prevent officers from stopping motorists that have objects hanging from their rearview mirror.
“Even though it is in the driver handbook, most people don’t pay attention to it,” Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, told The Center Square.
“They don’t even realize that it is against the law. The police know it is a violation. And remember, the police are responsible for pulling people over because the law says that they have to. It makes no sense,” Ford said.
Ford’s bill, House Bill 2389, which would no longer allow law enforcement to stop drivers for simply hanging objects on the rearview mirror, passed the Illinois House with bipartisan support in late March.
In Minnesota, a police officer killed Chicagoan Daunte Wright two years ago when she stopped him for having an air freshener tag hanging from his rearview mirror.
Wright got irate about the stop. The officer reached for her taser gun to subdue him but she grabbed her pistol instead and Wright was killed.
“If the bill passes the Senate, as we expect, and the governor signs it into law, that is one less responsibility that law enforcement will have to have,” Ford said.
The measure passed the Senate earlier this month and can now be sent to the governor.
When Ford asked Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias to support his effort to get the law off the books, Giannoulias did not hesitate.
“Pulling someone over for merely having an air freshener attached to the rearview mirror is not only archaic, it’s ridiculous,” Giannoulias said in a statement.
“Amending the law by prohibiting traffic stops that encourage discriminatory practices will ultimately make our streets safer for both motorists and police officers,” Giannoulias said.
Ford said it is a safety issue, both for the public and for law enforcement.
“We need to minimize how often police have to have contact with drivers for the safety of both,” Ford said.
“A simple traffic stop for this violation can lead to a person being killed by police for a number of reasons. Imagine a police officer pulling someone over for an air freshener or a rosary when there is a killer on the loose. It makes no sense,” Ford said.
Officers will still be able to cite drivers as long as the stop was not solely based on an object hanging from the rearview mirror or elsewhere inside the car.