Illinois Traffic Law and the Police

Background: So, I am driving my mother back to her house after she dropped her car off at the mechanics. When out of a school parking lot a police officer pulls out right in front of me. No lights (of any kind), no signal. It was twilight so it would seem like some lights would be prudent. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting this guy. He speeds down the road, but only slightly over the limit and after about a quarter mile pulls over somebody. I called the police station and was told the officer did nothing wrong, he was within his rights to drive this way. I was also told police officers are exempt from traffic laws when in a pursuit situation.

My questions: Are police officers truly exempt from traffic laws in a pursuit situation? Does the safety of other drivers outweigh the need to for police to drive recklessly? Are police officers exempt from traffic laws no matter why they are pursuing an offender?

I tried to look up this exemption the police told me about in West’ Illinois Criminal Law and Procedure but could not find it. I also could not find it on a couple of websites I tried, including one that had a searchable version of the Illinois traffic code.

You did say Illinois didn’t you? :slight_smile:

Which county? City?

Will County, Shorewood

They’re full of crap, according to the Illinois Vehicle Code:

Thanks Nametag.

Did you see anything about an exemption for the police for anything? I sure can’t find it.

Keep in mind it is Illinois, but then I’ve only dealt with the S.P. But it begs the question, if the cop can only be ticketed by another cop…

Well, generally speaking, police cars (and fire trucks, and ambulances) can do damn near anything as long as (1) lights and sirens are on and (2) no one gets hurt. Drive on the wrong side of the road, speed, run red lights – the list goes on. Police are sometimes required to run without lights and siren when in pursuit of someone who might get violent if they know the police are near, but that’s rare and they may have to obey all the laws then.

But a cop making a standard traffic stop has no excuse for that kind of crap; it’s bad driving, and sloppy police work.

Police officers are not legally exempt from traffic laws or departmental policy when in pursuit of a traffic offender. And almost any policing agency will have its own traffic pursuit policy.

Nametag’s cite refers specifically to pursuit of traffic violators, and as we all know, there are plenty of other stripes of violators out there. I don’t know how your locale may alter pursuit policy for violent felons as opposed to stop sign sliders - presumably they do place a higher premium on apprehending Uzi-totin’ bank robbers in stolen vehicles than they do school zone blazers.

At the scene, you don’t know what the cop’s dealing with. So save any griping for later and get out of the cop’s way.

When you later ponder your griping, consider the realities. Cops, generally speaking, are in practice exempt from traffic laws. It’s rare for them to be ticketed by another cop for transgressions committed on their off-duty time, and when they’re in a patrol car, unless there are palpable damages, they’re virtually immune.

Not to say that is the perfect situation; that’s just how it is.

If a cop startles or scares you in traffic, you can gripe about it. I doubt you’ll easily get anywhere, but a concerted effort might get a single cop some mild reprimand. You’ll have no effect on the way it operates as a whole.

A lot of cops are yahoos. Because they can be; at least for a bit. Most cops really are not, or not for long.

I’d say just get over it and move on. Unless you have some great idea about how to fundamentally change the system - which must, of course, include catching the real bad guys.

Wow. I grew up in Shorewood. Guess I better watch what I say around here. You might know people I know.:eek:

I forgot to mention the fact that even though you were in the right, I wouldn’t mess with the Shorewood cops. They will remember who you are. It’s not worth the hassle of having to watch your every move each time you drive through the town.

I know the police have a lot to deal with, but in this situation the officer was wrong. When I called the police I wasn’t looking for anything other than an apology and an assurance that the officer would be talked to. Then I get this whole story about the police being exempt from traffic laws while in pursuit. I saw the guy he pulled over and I don’t think he was a major criminal (there was no backup). I thought about confronting him there, but decided against it for the obvious reasons. What I really take offense to is being lied to by the police when I called them.

Qwisp, I don’t know if you really thought about this, but we can’t just let the police get away with things because they can make our lives hell.
Also, I don’t want this to break off into a GD.

So back to the original post, are the police exempt from the traffic laws while in pursuit (no lights) etc.?

Legally, no.

Effectivelly, yes.

Hmmm…should that be two “l”'s?

In legally, yes.

In effectively, no. :slight_smile: