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Illinois Supreme Court rules on DUI stops

state of Illinois
Illinois Supreme Court justices

The state's highest court says police can pull someone over for a DUI stop, even if the driver only drifts slightly out of his or her lane. The ruling stems from a case out of Will County.

In 2008, a sheriff's deputy pulled over Dennis Hackett after his car briefly moved out of its lane a couple of times.  Hackett was charged with DUI.  But a Will County judge ruled the deputy did not have sufficient reason to make the traffic stop. That decision was upheld by the appellate court, so prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

Earlier this year, Hackett's attorney Ryan Kosztya argued before the Supreme Court. He said police shouldn't be able to pull people over for every minor lane deviation.

"It isn't an absolute. You don't point your car one way and you're automatically in that spot driving within that parameter of a particular roadway and carrying on" Kosztya said.

But Assistant Attorney General David Iskowich argued police have to be able to respond to even slightly swerving drivers.

"It's important that drivers pay attention to what they are doing, and one of the most important ways to pay attention is to remain within your lane line" Iskowich said.

The justices sided with prosecutors. In a unanimous opinion, they say the law on improper lane usage has no distance requirement. The decision means the DUI case against Hackett can continue in Will County court.