This article contribution comes to us from Fay Niselbaum, content specialist at The Law Office of Zev Goldstein.
When it comes to driving, you want to know what you have to look out for. Are police offers more likely to target certain genders? What about people of particular races? Understanding who they are most likely to target can help you stay out of trouble.
Racial profiling is, of course, unconstitutional. Unfortunately, says NY speeding ticket lawyer Zev Goldstein, it’s difficult for many people to set aside their ingrained prejudices and base their opinions on an individual’s behavior, rather than on other familiar characteristics—and even law enforcement officers are not immune to that problem.
Guys Versus Girls: Who Gets Stopped More Often?
In general, men are more likely to be searched than their female counterparts. Perhaps because it’s the innocent face of the woman behind the wheel, or maybe it’s based more on simple profiling. Men are also more likely to be pulled over in the first place. Women may also be less confrontational when they are pulled over, making it more likely that they’ll be able to walk away without a ticket.
Are Minorities More Likely to Be Stopped?
In 2013, 86% of traffic stops in the city of Ferguson were targeted at black individuals. 92% of the searches performed during those traffic stops were aimed at blacks. Unfortunately, Ferguson isn’t alone. “Driving while black” is considered by minorities to be a serious and prevalent problem in many areas, with black drivers more likely to be pulled over even when they aren’t guilty of any wrongdoing. Non-white drivers are, overall, at least one and a half times more likely to be pulled over in a routine traffic stop than white drivers, leading to a serious imbalance between the races. Another source, however, found that traffic stops tended, at least in 2008, to be fairly balanced in terms of race. Searches of those vehicles, however, were not quite as balanced: minorities were still much more likely to be searched than whites.
Are Cops Targeting Worse Drivers?
Young men are much more likely to drink and drive, but young women who are depressed are 10% more likely than anyone else to engage in reckless behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding and cellphone use. Individuals of different races, however, have relatively similar stats when it comes to traffic fatalities: Hispanic, black, and Caucasian individuals were equally likely to be involved in fatal accidents, making any type of racial profiling irrelevant. Native Americans and Asians were the ones who really stood out in 2006: Asians because they were only a third as likely to be involved in these accidents, and Native Americans because they were three times more likely. In general, therefore, biased cops likely aren’t targeting minorities because of their actual driving ability, but rather because of other perceptions.
What About Black and Female Cops?
Cops who fit themselves into these gender roles are no less likely to fall victim to familiar prejudices. Individual prejudice, however, is often unique to the officer in question. However, women and minorities who have risen to this position of authority are often harder on their own gender or race than they would be in other situations, feeling that they’ve “broken the stereotype” and insisting on similar behavior from their peers.
For the average driver, this means that maintaining the law of the road while driving is paramount. While your gender or the color of your skin shouldn’t determine the likelihood that you’ll receive a ticket, it may influence whether or not you’re pulled over. The trick? Follow traffic laws, maintain your composure, and if you are pulled over, be as polite as possible. It might not stop you from having problems, but it will make it more likely that you’ll be able to navigate the situation smoothly—and hopefully without receiving a ticket.