car laws.... a practical question

Are laws the same if you are in a car opposed to walking down the street? In other words… I get stopped in my car and searched… can the same be done legally if I am walking down the street? If this is a local law then how is it applied in Illinois? How about if I am a passenger opposed to a driver? Do the same laws apply to me?


IANAL, But… why should the law be any different whether you are in a car or not? If a police officer has reasonable cause to believe that you have done something illegal (or have something illegal in your possession), the laws of search and siezure should apply equally to either circumstance.

haha took me awhile to figure out IANAL is “I am not a lawyer”

There are a number of differences.

Because the state is permitted to license drivers, they are also permitted to impose certain rules related to drivers that do not apply to pedestrians. For example, the “implied consent” law relating to breath or blood tests can provide a criminal penalty for a driver that refuses to submit to a test; a pedestrian can generally not be compelled to submit to such a test.

The law also differs when it comes to passengers. A car that is briefly detained for investigative purposes necessarily restricts the liberty of both driver and passenger, even though the driver alone is suspected of a vilation of law. Case law permits the police to search the interior of a car, including personal effects of a passenger. Two pedestrians walking side by side do not present the same situation: even if one is detained for some reason, the second is free to continue about his business unless there is independent reason to also detain him.

This is a very general overview - if you have a specific hypothetical, please feel free to post it.

  • Rick