Racially Motivated DUI Stops in America Are a Problem


When I was a young adult, I was eager to take my new driver’s license and shiny car out into the world. My parents constantly reminded me to drive safe, go the speed limit, and avoid the freeway if possible. They told me to text or call them when I arrived safely at my location, but not once did my parents have to rehearse with me what to do if I was pulled over by a police officer.

Never did my parents tell me, “Lower your window so the officer can see you, turn on your lights, keep your hands visible, always have your license and registration with you, and don’t make sudden movements.” The same cannot always be said for people of a darker skin tone or different background. Unfortunately, many black and Hispanic parents have to have this difficult conversation with their children because they understand it could be the difference between life and death.

Racial profiling is considered illegal in America, and rightly so. Therefore, if you are pulled over for a DUI based on your race, the evidence against you should be inadmissible. Unfortunately, in practice, the illegality of racial profiling does not always mean that it will not happen.

Yet, black and Hispanic drivers across America are pulled over at rates much higher than white drivers, even though they are comparatively no more prone to illegal behavior. In the Stanford University Open Policing Project, the data showed that not only were black Americans more likely to be stopped than white Americans, but they were also more likely to be searched, ticketed, and arrested.

Racial Profiling in DUI Stops is Dangerous

The nature of driving impaired is inherently dangerous and can end in injury or death. Race does not discriminate in that respect. But when a routine traffic stop ends in the shooting and killing of an unarmed, fleeing black man, it is hard to ignore the racial implications. Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, was recently killed in what started as a DUI confrontation. This incident highlighted the disproportionate amount of force used against minorities in traffic stops. It also mirrors the disproportionate incidence of traffic stops, particularly DUI, against black and Hispanic drivers.

There are countless stories of minorities detailing why and how they were stopped by police. Not all end badly, but nearly all are marked by one sentiment: fear. Stopping, detaining, searching or arresting someone based on their race is a violation of the Constitution. Officers must have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime was either committed or that someone is in danger, in order to stop a driver.

If race is the motivating factor behind your stop, it can taint your entire case. If you or someone you know suspects that their arrest for DUI was racially motivated, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Taylor & Taylor are here to help navigate your DUI case.

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