A proposed state law would no longer allow police officers to stop vehicle owners for hanging items off their rearview mirror while driving. Currently, state law bans items hanging from a vehicle’s rearview mirror while driving, such as air fresheners, rosaries or disability placards, as they could obstruct the driver’s vision.
Proponents of the bill said the current prohibition often serves as a pretext for racially motivated traffic stops for minor infractions. Changing the law would decrease “unnecessary encounters” between police officers and motorists over minor infractions, increasing safety for the public and law enforcement officials, bill proponents said.
Under the proposed bill (H-2389), sponsored by State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (IL-08) and proposed by Secretary of State Alexis Giannoulias, police would no longer have the authority to stop drivers for hanging items off their rearview mirror.
“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 press release.
“Amending the law by prohibiting traffic stops that encourage discriminatory practices will ultimately make our streets safer for both motorists and police officers.”
The bill would amend the Illinois Vehicle Code to state that no driver can be stopped by law enforcement solely on the basis of driving with an object hanging on the vehicle’s rearview mirror, windshields or side windows.
“We need to do everything we can to reduce the need for police interactions with people for non-violent and non-threatening violations,” Ford said. “There is no reason for police to pull over a vehicle just because they have an air freshener on their mirror or for many other minor infractions.
With this bill, Illinois joins several states and municipalities changing their vehicle codes to reduce pretextual stops, such as Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Fayetteville, North Carolina.
The Illinois House passed the bill on March 24 and it is awaiting vote in the Senate. If passed, it will go to the governor’s office.