Roadblocks & U-Turns

As the holiday season is upon us, the lawyers at Griffin|Williams LLP have attended several holiday parties and answered hundreds of “quick questions” from friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The inquiries range from concerns over traffic tickets to estate plans, real estate transactions to business disputes and much more. A question about police roadblocks and the propriety of u-turns to avoid them stood out.

The question concerns a circumstance most everyone has experienced – – a police roadblock. The thought that crosses many drivers’ minds when confronted with a roadblock and the long line preceding it is, what if I “pulled a u-ey” and avoided this mess? Could the police stop me for simply making a u-turn?

A recent Illinois Appellate Court opinion in People v. Timmsen, 2014 IL App (3d) 120481, 14 N.E.3d 1267, 383 Ill.Dec. 656 (3rd Dist. 2014) answered that question. In Timmsen, the court held that without additional evidence, a motorist’s act of simply making a legal u-turn to avoid a roadblock does not provide a basis for the police to stop you. The court reasoned that other facts such as speeding, squealing tires or spraying gravel along with the u-turn could, however, provide the police a basis to stop a motorist making a u-turn to avoid a roadblock.

If you or your friends and family have any other “quick questions” of a legal nature you might need answered, please feel free to contact the lawyers at Griffin|Williams LLP.