by Terry Schilling
This article is part of a series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.
It breaks my heart, being that it’s my home state, but it seems like everyday there’s another problem brewing in Illinois.
If it’s not sky-high murder rates in Chicago, it’s the unfunded pension liability. Gov. Bruce Rauner has no easy task either — state House Speaker Mike Madigan and his Democrat cronies have been wreaking havoc on the Land of Lincoln for decades.
The taxes are sky high, debt is growing everyday, and it seems that help is nowhere in sight.
Part of the Madigan-induced havoc has been enacting obnoxiously invasive regulations and laws on Illinois citizens.
In a Liberty Minute entitled “No Hangups,” Helen Krieble recently discussed the needless, and frankly ridiculous, regulations the Illinois state government has applied to motor vehicles:
In every state, drivers with medical issues can get handicapped signs to display in their car windshields. They are cut in the shape of a hanger, so they can be attached to the rear view mirror.
But, if you hang one in your car, you could get a ticket, just as you can for hanging an air freshener, a parking permit, or a pair of foam rubber dice. Illinois police pulled over 38,000 drivers in one year for hanging something on their mirrors — even signs issued by the state.
Instead of looking at what’s on the mirror, they should look through the lens of liberty and ask if the Constitution gives the government any authority to determine if you can have an air freshener in your car.
In this case, it appears clear that the government is attempting to use something as simple as an air freshener as an excuse to write revenue boosting tickets. However, some advocates for civil rights and personal freedoms see it as something even more serious:
…an arbitrary excuse to pull over drivers and proceed to a more invasive search. A recent court decision in Illinois and a bill making its way through the Michigan legislature indicate a sharpening of those concerns.
In fact, an Illinois woman was arrested for possession of Xanax after being pulled over for a having an air freshener that was “2 3/4 inches wide and 3 inches tall.” However, the courts found that the deputy who made the arrest failed to show “reasonable suspicion” that the air freshener was actually obstructing the woman’s view. The courts also recommended that lawmakers “consider whether the approach we now use in Illinois accomplishes the intended result.”
And in 2002, a 55-year-old widow was slapped with a $75 ticket for having her rosary beads hanging from her rear view mirror. The woman, Catherine Morris, fought the citation, and the case against her was rightfully thrown out. Are we to seriously believe that a rosary presents an obstruction of the driver’s view?
Local municipalities and governments have always engaged in revenue boosting activities — from speed traps to conveniently obscured speed limit signs and police cruisers. In fact, one of the only items exempt from this law and allowed to be on the windshield is the Illinois I-PASS box, which is used for paying tolls. However, through the lens of liberty we see that these measures are not just, especially when they are used, like this one, to engage in unwarranted searches and seizures.
I will always love my home state of Illinois, but laws such as these have got to go.
Photo credit: Barbara Bresnahan via Flickr, CC BY 2.0