Latest Woke Madness: Stop Enforcing Minor Traffic Offenses

City of Richmond traffic citations by race/ethnicity and sex in 2018. Source: City of Richmond Police Department.

by James A. Bacon

The General Assembly has passed HB 5058, which would prevent law enforcement officers from stopping motorists for driving with busted mufflers, headlights, and brake lights, driving with an expired registration sticker, or failure to wear a seatbelt.

“This [legislation] bubbled up to a high level of concern because of the disproportionate number of black and brown communities that tend to be targeted for these pretextual [traffic] stops,” sponsor Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, told The Virginia Star. “We wanted to create a bill that would eliminate or at least significantly curve those number of interactions that frequently escalate. So that is what you have before you, a bill to try to eliminate those unnecessary interactions.”

Law enforcement spokesmen oppose the bill. Said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman: “I think the bill in itself, from everything that I’ve read about it, is just an affront to common sense and public safety. And to have a bill like that pass through both the House and the Senate and go to the Governor for signage is really ill conceived and just a true detriment to the safety of our public.”

Bacon’s bottom line: This is wokism run amok. Hope has made no case that that it’s safe to drive with headlights off, drive without working brakes or brake lights, or wear a seatbelt. He has made no argument that it’s OK to drive with expired registration stickers or without an illuminated license plate. His argument is simply that “black and brown” people are disproportionately likely to be pulled for “pretextual” stops than whites.

Hope provides no evidence that police are more likely to pull “black and brown” people because of their race or ethnicity.

The fact is that “black and brown” people are more likely to violate the laws enacted to promote safe driving. The reason, I would contend, is not their race/ethnicity but the fact that African Americans and Hispanics tend to have lower incomes than whites and Asians and, therefore, they’re more likely to drive clunkers, have less money to maintain their cars, and can’t afford to keep their stickers up to date. Hope has racialized a socioeconomic disparity.

Speaking of those pesky Asians, they comprise 2.1% of the City of Richmond’s population but only 0.85 of Richmond traffic violations, as seen in the table above. As in so many matters, Asians are more law-abiding than blacks, Hispanics and whites. I wonder why that is. Are traffic laws and traffic enforcement designed to favor Asians over all other groups?

If Governor Ralph Northam signs HB 5058, it will be interesting to see (1) if there is an uptick in traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities as a result, and (2) if “black and brown” people are more likely to be victims. I’m guessing that Del. Hope won’t be checking the numbers. He’s got the Oppression Narrative. Nothing else matters.

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57 responses to “Latest Woke Madness: Stop Enforcing Minor Traffic Offenses

  1. What possible harm can come from driving at night without working headlights?

    Wasn’t Hope the braveheart who threatened to start impeachment proceedings against Justin Fairfax after the multiple rape accusations? Has Fairfax been impeached yet?

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  2. Wow, now there’s a disparity which practically leaps from the data. How will the General Assembly work to reduce the number of male motorists receiving minor traffic citations?

    • Baconator with extra cheese

      Exactly. Is Equity limited to skin color or is sex a factor? When will we see Equity in the prison population and why are the police picking on men at such wide margins. After all gender is just a construct.

    • I’m bored at work so I ran the data:

      BM: 57.1%
      WM: 59.1%
      HM: 61.4%
      AM: 59.4%

      Who will answer for this?

      • Baconator with extra cheese

        Are we to suppose that men are different then women? If not then how do we explain this disproportionate impact on men?
        Is it because too many boys are taught by women in public schools? Shouldn’t the state be increasing the proportion of male teachers? I mean we are talking about Equity here. Last time I saw 70% of public teachers are female and white. I think we need to get some answers on why the Department of Education supports this systemic misandry.

        • I was at JMU for undergrad — once thought all the cute girls in the College of Education were only there for me to date. And now to find they were there to oppress me!

      • Well, given that the B in BM and BW are 20% of the population…

    • It would only matter if women were getting more tickets than men.

  3. Black and brown people are poorer and tend to violate such laws more. Gee. Talk about obvious systemic racism. Look no further than this blog!

    • I would guess that economic status and automotive upkeep are related. Back when I was starting out and paying off those VELA loans I’d stretch the car registration from time to time.

      The bigger question is the pretext stop. I’m willing to bet that I could drive a long time with a broken tail light in my F-150 wearing a UVa ball cap while listening to country music. I doubt the same would be true for three young black men in a beat up sedan with rap music playing. However, I would immediately be pulled over for driving at night without working headlights. As usual, the wizards of wokeness have gone too far.

  4. Baconator with extra cheese

    Why isn’t AG Herring cracking down on the obvious systemic racism in policing propped up by the Stoney administration?
    Seriosuly…. is he not in control of his city?
    If it is truly all wrapped up in systemic racism then it is disgusting Stoney and his chosen administration has a vandetta agaist BIPOCs.

  5. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Bonus! You don’t have to get your car inspected until 3 months after the sticker is dead. I am all in. Looks like I will be pushing the October inspection off until Feb 1.

    E. No law-enforcement officer shall stop a motor vehicle due to an expired vehicle inspection sticker until the first day of the fourth month after the original expiration date. No evidence discovered or obtained as the result of a stop in violation of this subsection, including evidence discovered or obtained with the operator’s consent, shall be admissible in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding.

  6. Some women’s self defense classes advise kidnapped women to kick out a tail light. I believe law enforcement has better things to do than seek out very minor infractions. But if I were stuffed in a trunk, I might feel differently…

  7. Actually I see the logic, not sure the fix.
    A few years ago on my way to Walmart (less than a mile) and a black cop pulled me over for headlight out. I swear the headlight must have burned out just that second. So I put on my blinkers pulled over in the parking lot. Well I had one angry cop, that I did not more immediately stop on the busy road. He gave me a hard time, but I got away with a headlight warning – which was a problem because I had to pay $200 for the Toyota dealer to fix it.

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Front Royal is going to love this bill. Seems like every other car has a busted tail light, bad brake light, flopping mufflers if one at all, and lots of dope smoking. Might as well throw in you can’t get pulled over for speeding. But wait on I 66 this morning at Markham, I was doing 71 mph and was passed by someone doing Warp Speed. No kidding had to have been doing 100 mph plus.
    Never ever see a state policeman on this road anymore.

  9. re: ” The bigger question is the pretext stop. I’m willing to bet that I could drive a long time with a broken tail light in my F-150 wearing a UVa ball cap while listening to country music. ”

    I suggest a modified hybrid approach. Once the police have pulled the blacks folks statistically share, no more stops for that reason are allowed.

    That day will then be publisized as “race free” day.

    Black folks discovered to be driving at night with no headlights beyond the statisical cap will be provided with free headlights.

  10. Jim beat me to this bill, although I am surprised that it has not surfaced on this blog before now.

    The Daily Press has a good discussion, highlighting the arguments for and against this legislation: https://www.dailypress.com/news/crime/dp-nw-general-assembly-police-20201011-g3ftvpea2ncwjeqswa7qckb3fi-story.html

    This bill is a good example of the knee-jerk reaction of GA Democrats to a real problem and its haste in enacting the legislation. As for haste, Del. Hope, the bill’s patron, has said recently he did not realize that the bill would prohibit law enforcement from stopping a vehicle being operated at night without its headlights on. He said that he would follow up on that. I expect that the Governor will return the bill to the legislature with a recommended amendment addressing the headlight issue.

    As for the problem, from conversations with friends and accounts and comments in the press, it seems obvious that many Blacks, particularly males, have experienced the phenomenon of being stopped for “driving while Black”. There is no systematic data on this issue because it has not been tracked, although there have been recent efforts to begin requiring law enforcement to document their traffic stops.

    While well-intentioned, I do not think this legislation will accomplish its purpose. Although this legislation will eliminate a lot of the minor pretexts for a traffic, there will remain a plethora of other reasons for a cop to stop a Black driver on a pretext if she wants to do so. For example, who among us usually follows the posted speed limit in urban areas? Who is to say that the cop stopping a Black driver going 38 in a 35-mph zone is using that law as a pretext or is really serious about enforcing speed limits? Then, there are the Yield signs. Did that Black driver, who was pulled over, really fail to slow down enough and check for traffic? Finally, there are two standbys, Sec. 46.2-852 prohibiting reckless driving (operating a vehicle in manner so as to endanger life, limb or property) and Sec. 46.2-861 prohibiting exceeding a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.

    In summary, the legislation may undercut some legitimate reasons for stopping a driver (expired safety sticker or registration, for example) while failing to achieve its main purpose of cutting down on stopping Black drivers on pretexts.

    • To follow up, who is to say that the Black driver was really doing 38, but rather the cop used that as an excuse for a stop?

      • Off Twitter, edited for the delicate sensibilities of BR readers.

        Karlous
        @KarlousM
        ·
        Jun 2
        One time i got pulled over, the cop said i wasn’t speeding but “it looked like i was about to pick up speed.” I still don’t know what the (UVa Lawn F-word) that looks like ‘TIL this day.

    • What about turn signals? Just about nobody uses them. But it’s still an offense (it’s considered reckless driving) for which one can be pulled over.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      When Governor Northam signs this bill will it take effect immediately, July 1, or some other date?

      • The state constitution provides that laws enacted in a special session take effect on the first day of the fourth month following adjournment. Assuming the legislature adjourns in October, then the effective date would be Feb. 1.

    • Didn’t think of driving with broken headlights. That’s probably one of the reasons some of my friends who are Democrats call him “Hope the Dope.”

      BTW, the safety people at MWCOG are tied up in knots. They know enforcing seatbelt laws save lives but wish to be woke at the same time. Solution, amend the Code to provide that damages in an automobile crash must be reduced by X% when there is evidence a driver or a passenger was not wearing a seatbelt.

  11. Didn’t think of driving with broken headlights. That’s probably one of the reasons some of my friends who are Democrats call him “Hope the Dope.”

    BTW, the safety people at MWCOG are tied up in knots. They know enforcing seatbelt laws save lives but wish to be woke at the same time. Solution, amend the Code to provide that damages in an automobile crash must be reduced by X% when there is evidence a driver or a passenger was not wearing a seatbelt.

    • Failure to wear a seat belt is already a secondary offence. I know this because when the legislature was considering that bill, my motorcycle rights group tried to get them to make failure to wear a helmet while riding a secondary offence as well.

      They did not do that but they did pass the seatbelt bill and it was signed by the governor.

  12. All cars should be Subarus. And, all cars should have Subaru EyeSight®.

    It’s like having your mother in the car. No, it’s like having your mother BE the car.

    If you change lanes without using a turn signal, it beeps. If you follow too close, it beeps. If the car in front you at the stoplight moves, it beeps. If a brake/signal light is out, it beeps. If a car encroaches on you, it beeps. It does emergeny stopping, all by itself!

    Don’t even think of driving without a seatbelt. The dinging starts soft and then gets more and more insistant. I thought it would stop after a minute like my old Saturn. Nope! It just gets louder and keeps right on going. After 5 minutes, I gave up. It beat me. I put on the damned belt.

    Door ajar? Beep? No. It squeals, and loudly.

    But, to be fair, in 6 months, it made me a better driver. Faster, but better.

    • you mean Nannymobile.

      I’m of the view, no disrespect, that folks should be good drivers on their own without being nagged or “trained”.

      And the nannymobile may not save you in some situations like running off the right shoulder and over-correcting back to meet oncoming cars… or running a light and getting t-boned… etc…

      One of the most important things one can do IMHO is monitor your rear view mirrors and especially so on multi-lane higher speed roads… you need to know if there is some traffic overtaking you ….

      wanna know if the guy on the side road is going to pull out in front of you? check your rear-view. If there is traffic coming behind you – many folks will see that and just pull out and go for it.

      Want to NOT hit deer? When you see one – remember they travel in groups.. the one you see might be the first in a group – slow down !

      • Oh God is it ever. I thought I was Jerry Van Dyke in a bad 60s sitcom.

        But truth be told, it is really unnoticeable now. It has trained me.

        Don’t need a stamp to take ’em by car. No stamp, no limit.

      • “I’m of the view, no disrespect, that folks should be good drivers on their own without being nagged or “trained”.”

        On this we agree.

    • We need it to beep if you’re driving 10MPH under the limit in the left lane in clear weather with nobody in front of you for a mile.

      • well, no…. an electro-shock… and even more voltage when blocking folks.

        • Especially when they notice that you’re passing them on the right and they speed up.

          Many many years ago I had someone do that to me. I was in the left lane, going about 65MPH (in a 55MPH), she changes lanes into the left lane at about 60MPH.

          No problem, I just change lanes and pass her on the right…except she sped up to 80MPH!!!

          Well, I sped up more, got in front of her, and slowed right back down to my original speed of 65MPH (still 5MPH faster than what she was going before I started to pass her).

          She then changed lanes to pass me…well lady, turnabout is fair play so..I sped up. And matched her speed. I guess she wanted to make a left turn at the upcoming intersection because she looked like her head was about to explode as she motioned at me and gave me the finger.

          She ended up missing her left turn and looked like she was ready to kill someone.

          Probably one of the “entitled housewives of Fairfax County”.

          • It’s even worse on two lane road when you’re passing them on the left. Trying to prevent someone from passing you is a reckless driving offense in Virginia but I have never heard of anyone being charged.

            I pass a lot of cars during my daily commutes on two lane roads. I set my cruise control for 62 or 63 mph and I still catch up to more cars than come up behind me. I have studied the phenomenon and have found that at least 75% of the people I pass increase their speed at least 5 mph during the pass. I honestly think that a lot of them do not even realize they are doing it.

            Of course, there are also those who actively try to prevent the pass. 99.9% of them chicken out once speeds reach 80 mph so it is not a problem for someone who is willing to go 90-100+ by the end of the pass.

            I’ve never understood why someone would do that. I obviously want to go faster than they do because I came up behind them. I want ask them: Would you rather have a pissed-off person directly behind you or a non-pissed-off person way ahead of you? My answer is: I never want a pissed off driver directly behind me.

            When someone comes up behind me and wants to pass I make it a point to shift my car about 2 feet to the right in my lane so they will have a better view around me to know when it’s safe to pass. I’ve honestly never had anyone come up behind me while I was riding a motorcycle on a two-lane road (unless I was stuck in traffic) but I would do the same thing if that did happen.

          • “I set my cruise control for 62 or 63 mph and I still catch up to more cars than come up behind me…”

            Uh, try 55, which is the speed limit on 2-lane blacktop.

          • Actually 45mpg on many 2-lane roads …. I do not tailgate and I do not like to be tailgated ESPECIALLY when I’m going to speed limit or better but there are always yahoos and aholes who can’t control themselves out there. I will gladly pull over and let them by and go find themselves a passive-aggressive type to play with.

            There are some people on multi-lane roads that will sit in the left lane at the speed limit and refuse to be passed… I let the tailgaters deal with them also.

            😉

          • “Uh, try 55, which is the speed limit on 2-lane blacktop.”

            No. Speed limits are the one law I will rebelliously disobey.

          • I don’t tailgate – it makes it harder to see far enough up the road to plan a safe pass.

            And on 45 mph roads I try not to exceed 51-52.

      • 10 under? Three chances, slim, fat, and no. Oh, not me, you mean somebody else doing that Yeah, by all means.

        How about a lighted “Hawaiian Good Luck” hand sign that automatically lights up on the front of your car?

        • I once heard that JC Whitney used to sell a switch you could mount to your gearshift so you could downshift, flash the high beams, and blow the horn all at the same time.

          Would be a nice way to deal with LLDs (left lane dicks)

    • Baconator with extra cheese

      Mine shuts the radio off until you comply with the seatbelt…. I call my Subaru Karen… she constantly wants to speak to my manager.

      • I though “Karen” was more of a “I am entitled and privledged” type…
        😉 Didn’t realize she was obnoxious and nagging also… full package.

        • Karen is the type of woman who, while the cashier at the Costco food court is giving you your order, cuts in to ask about the pizza she ordered, so you have to say “Excuse me, could you negotiate the pizza later? I’d like to get the food I paid for”…and then says “I didn’t mean to cut in front of you”…

          …then she comes over 5 minutes later and accuses YOU of being rude.

          That’s a Karen. And Fairfax County is FULL of them.

          • worse than that – they move down to Fredericksburg because it’s a “nicer” place – unti they get here…of course..

        • Sounds like everyone who works in the MSM.

  13. Sounds like everyone who works in the MSM.

  14. re: ” Part of it is the car tax makes it best for lower incomes to own tax free older cars”

    I agree but there is still a difference between an old white fart chomping on a cigar is a beat-up pickup and a couple of young blacks in a “beater” playing rap music.

    If we collected sufficient enough stats on these stops – they could be easily data-mined to find patterns.

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