Assembly Passes Legislation to Address Racial Disparities in Traffic Stops

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the Assembly has passed legislation to address racial disparities in traffic stops by reducing the number of traffic stops for minor, nonmoving violations such as stickers on vehicle windows and objects placed or suspended in or on the vehicle (Darling, A.7599).

“Too often, we have seen these traffic stops involving minor violations result in tragedies,” said Speaker Heastie. “The Assembly Majority is committed to addressing the racial disparities that exist in interactions with police officers. Today’s legislation will help to address these inequities and make New York safer.”

“Traffic stops are one of the most common interactions with law enforcement and they often cause extreme anxiety for people of color,” said Assemblymember Taylor Darling. “This legislation will help reduce the number of unnecessary traffic stops that too often target people of color and do little to make our streets safer.”

Today’s legislation would require that a traffic summons for operating a vehicle in violation of the prohibition on placement of posters or stickers on a vehicle windshield or rear windows could only be issued when there is reasonable cause to believe that the driver has committed a violation of another state law. The legislation would also require that a traffic summons for operating a vehicle with any object placed or hung in or upon the vehicle in a manner that obstructs or interferes with the view of the driver can only be issued when there is reasonable cause to believe the driver has violated another state law.

According to 2020 research published by the Stanford Open Policing Project, of a dataset of nearly 100 million traffic stops carried out across the United States, Black drivers were about 20 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers relative to their share of the residential population. The study also found that once stopped, Black drivers were searched about 1.5 to two times as often as white drivers.