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Stop - or else

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Stop - or else

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
May 31, 2009

On May 28 the Woodstock Police Department announced its June Traffic Initiative. June's focus will be on stop sign violators and those who fail to yield the right-of-way. Read the press release of the Police Department's web section on www.WoodstockIl.gov

This would be a good time to review the Illinois Rules of the Road regarding stop signs and yielding.

Actually, the Stop sign part is pretty easy. When you roll up to a stop sign, you are supposed to stop. Stop means s-t-o-p. That's a four-wheel stop. Complete stop. Not what we, when I was a kid, called a "St. Louis Stop", which was slowing down to about 20, shifting into second and going.

And you'd better stop at the right place. Here's why, although it might not be much clearer after you read it.

From the WPD press release: "As part of this initiative, all Woodstock police officers will be paying special attention to such violations. Also, certain officers will be specially assigned for limited periods to write citations for such dangerous driving behaviors as failure to come to a full stop and/or to yield the right-of-way. ...

"Officers that are detailed to perform during this special enforcement initiative shall adopt a zero tolerance for stop sign related violation while the outcome of the stop will remain at the officer's discretion."

The first "dangerous" behavior of a full stop in Woodstock is that you are going to get rear-ended. The driver behind you might be texting, chatting on her cellphone, reading, painting her nails or whatever and will be surprised when you make a full stop at the point specified in the Illinois Traffic Code and the Rules of the Road.

But this isn't the "dangerous" behavior that will be ticketed. You probably will not get a ticket for making a full stop; in fact, I'll go so far as to say that you will not get such a ticket.

But here's where you might get a ticket. Coming to a full stop means not only stopping (full stop), but also stopping at the right point in the roadway. Where's the right point?

As you approach an intersection with a stop line (the wide, solid, white bar painted in the roadway), you "...shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection."

So you could make a full stop, but not make it at the right point in the roadway, and find yourself the unhappy recipient of a moving violation that will cost you at least $75.00.

"Zero tolerance" in many departments means that, if you get stopped, you get a ticket. Notice the disclaimer in the press release. It appears that every observed violator (and there will be thousands) is to be stopped, but the officer will have discretion for the "outcome." So the officer will have a choice whether to issue you a ticket or a written warning.

Will there be certain drivers who will get a ticket if stopped? For example, the driver who is going to get a ticket and toward whom the officers have been told to exercise no discretion?

As for right-of-way? Read the Rules of the Road. And remember; you never have the right-of-way. The law is for a certain driver to yield the right-of-way. There is a difference. Don't find out "by accident."

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