Fighting Arrests for Driving While Black

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 14, 2022 | 0 Comments

According to a recent press report, a New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict police officers from stopping vehicles for minor infractions like a taillight out, failure to use a turn signal, or speeding at less than thirty miles per hour over the limit. Instead, police officers would issue contactless tickets for these violations that the offending vehicle owner would receive in the mail. Under the bill, police could continue to stop vehicles for major infractions like speeding more than thirty miles per hour over the limit.

Ending Arrests for Driving While Black

According to the press report, the bill's sponsor, who is also a black sheriff's officer, says that the bill's purpose is to eliminate serious concerns over arrests for so-called driving while black or DWB. The press report cites numerous studies showing that black drivers suffer significantly higher vehicle stop and arrest rates. Those vehicle stops and arrests often lead to more-serious charges for drug and weapons crimes, the evidence for which the arresting officers find in the vehicle. The disparity in vehicle stops black drivers face further contributes to a racial disparity in charge, conviction, and incarceration rates.

As laudable as the bill's intent is, its reforms could trigger other concerns. The press report quotes several policymakers who, while supporting the bill's intent, question the impact of its reforms. Contactless policing sounds like a great way to eliminate DWB arrests while also defusing driver confrontations with police. But contactless policing could also mean a lot of tickets issued without confirming the driver's identity when the driver has no chance to explain the alleged infraction and when the driver may not later have the recollection to dispute the ticket and fine. Police vehicles might become ticket factories rather than aids to promote driver education and compliance.

Defending Vehicle-Stop Charges Under Current Law

While the so-called DWB bill has garnered some public support, its prospects for passage remain unclear. Legal relief from the bill's passage may or may not be on the way. In the meantime, though, vehicle drivers who face criminal charges based on a vehicle stop may still find other legal relief if they retain aggressive criminal defense attorney representation. Police must ordinarily have probable cause to stop a vehicle and search it for incriminating evidence. Indeed, in New Jersey, some infractions are so minor that they do not warrant any such stop. Last year, the New Jersey Supreme Court held in the State v Carter case that police had no authority to stop and search a vehicle simply because a frame covered more of the vehicle's license plate than the law permitted.

If you face criminal charges based on a vehicle stop, retain premier New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for aggressive and effective defense representation. A charge is not a conviction. You may have constitutional, statutory, or procedural defenses to the charge, even if police discovered credible evidence of a crime. Get the premier defense attorney representation that you deserve and need to defend and defeat the charge. Call 888-535-3686 or go online now.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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