Dangling air fresheners are not grounds for police stop under new Illinois law

By Kevin Bessler
The Center Square

(The Center Square) – A new Illinois law prohibits law enforcement from pulling over drivers solely for having objects hanging from their rearview mirrors.

The measure was introduced by state Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, and Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias in March.

“Pulling someone over for merely having an air freshener attached to the rearview mirror is not only archaic, it’s ridiculous,” Giannoulias said.

Photo: Luigi Manga

Dante Wright, 20, was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer in 2021, and his mother said it started when he was pulled over for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. The officer that stopped Wright had been reaching for her taser, but instead grabbed her pistol.

Ford said changing the law will help keep communities safer as it would reduce the number of interactions police have with drivers for non-violent violations.

“Why increase the chance of law enforcement being in situations that are non-life threatening,” Ford said.

The Illinois Sheriff’s Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police were opposed to the measure.

Previously, Illinois law allowed law enforcement to initiate a stop if objects were hanging from a rearview mirror, or affixed to a windshield, on the grounds that they obstruct a motorist’s vision.

The updated law says “No motor vehicle, or driver or passenger of such vehicle, shall be stopped or searched by any law enforcement officer solely on the basis of a violation or suspected violation of this subsection.”

A majority of states allow objects to be attached to a car’s rearview mirror or windshield. Other states that have a similar law to Illinois include California and Texas.

The law goes into effect on January 1, 2024.

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Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. He can be reached at tim@cwbchicago.com