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When a driver seeks a favor ...

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

When a driver seeks a favor ...

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 10, 2014


What happens when a deputy (or cop) stops a driver who has no driver's license; as in, no valid driver's license. Not an expired Illinois license. Not suspended or revoked. As in, never had an Illinois driver's license.

What might be the circumstances?

Maybe the driver slid off an icy road. Or just had car trouble and coasted off the highway. Or maybe was in a fender-bender. Maybe the driver had an expired out-of-state license. Is that the same as No Valid Illinois Driver's License?

Or maybe the deputy ran the plate through his in-car computer and found there was no driver's license associated with the registration and so he "suspected" the driver had no license. (Did he really have probably cause, then for the traffic stop itself?) What cause did he have to believe that the owner of the vehicle was actually the driver?

A driver obviously cannot present his driver's license to the deputy for bond; he doesn't have one! Would an Insurance Card work for bond on the charge of No Driver's License?

The McHenry County Jail has a number of inmates who had no driver's license when the deputy came in contact with them. Driving a motor vehicle on a public roadway and no driver's license? Simple. Cuff 'em, stuff 'em in the back of the squad car, have their vehicle towed (for safe-keeping, don't you know?) and take 'em to jail. What's so hard about that?

There may be an pre-established bond, which they can post and then be released (if they have the money or a credit card). Or they may have to cool their heels until the next Rights Court at 8:00AM on a business day. Although the Rights Court is a public court, it is conducted in a secure area of the McHenry County Jail, and you must present ID and store all your "stuff" (phone, keys, metal, pocket knife, etc.) in a locker, before passing through the metal detector and proceeding 35 feet to the courtroom. A judge sets the bail, and then the driver bonds out, if and when he can.

How might a driver with no valid driver's license "persuade" a deputy not to take him to jail?

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