If Illinois law enforcement officers stop, detain or arrest you, you may find yourself walking a very fine line between cooperation and self-incrimination.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois provides tips on how you might remain respectful while standing up for your constitutional rights in various situations:

General etiquette

You should typically observe a few basic courtesies whenever dealing with law enforcement. These include showing your hands, avoiding complaints and refraining from arguments or resistance. It is almost always advisable not to obstruct or interfere with a police investigation; it could lead to criminal charges. You can also take steps to protect yourself by refusing to comment on the event, immediately asking for an attorney and documenting everything you recall as soon as you can.

Traffic stops

It is usually in your best interest to cooperate with the police during a traffic stop by giving them your identification and vehicle documents. If officers ask to search your car, remember that you do not have to consent and you should openly state your refusal. However, if the officers have probable cause, the law allows them to perform a search. This can include a breath or blood alcohol test. You may refuse these as well, but be aware that there is a good chance the state will suspend your driving privileges.

Home searches

Unless there is an obvious emergency, law enforcement officers may not enter your house without your consent or a signed warrant. If the police have a warrant, they must allow you to see it if you ask.


If law enforcement officers question you, ask if you are under arrest, and if so, for what offense. If officers believe that you have a weapon hidden on your person, they can perform a pat-down search, but you can voice your denial of consent. You do not have to provide answers to the police; however, it is essential you understand this may increase their suspicion.

Detainment or arrest

Law enforcement officers must advise you that you are under arrest and inform you of your rights. These include your right to remain silent and to an attorney — always exercise both of these privileges. You do not have to utter a single word after your arrest, and you should not do so. The police must allow you to either call your lawyer or explain how to contact a public defender. Never give officers or prosecutors any information until you have consulted an attorney.