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New ACLU Report Offers Evidence of Racial Profiling on Florida’s Roads

Racial profiling, as defined by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, refers to a pattern by law enforcement of targeting particular individuals to stop, detain, or question based on their personal characteristics rather than their behavior. One of these characteristics is race, but they also include ethnicity, national origin, and religion.  The underlying assumption is that people of a particular race or other characteristic are more likely to commit crimes.  Racial profiling is unconstitutional and violates your civil rights.

New evidence of racial profiling in Florida traffic stops

The National Institute of Justice notes that research has shown that people of color are subjected to traffic stops more often than whites.  Now a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provides further evidence of racial profiling on Florida’s roads.  The ACLU analyzed publicly available data from Florida law enforcement and concluded that black drivers in the state are stopped and ticketed far more frequently than white drivers for seatbelt law violations.  The organization’s report shows that black drivers are stopped for not wearing seat belts nearly twice as often as white drivers statewide, and up to four times more often in certain counties.

The ACLU was able to access relevant data because Florida law enforcement agencies are legally required to make an annual report to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles disclosing the race and ethnicity of anyone ticketed for failing to wear a seatbelt.  According to the ACLU, the data showed that overall, black motorists were stopped and ticketed for seatbelt violations at nearly twice the rate of white motorists.  In some specific counties, the disparity was even worse, with black motorists cited:

  • 4 times more frequently than white motorists by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in 2011 (the most recent year for which data was available);
  • 3 times more frequently than white motorists by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in 2014; and
  • 8 times more frequently than white motorists by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in 2014.

Data from some police departments not available

The ACLU noted that some agencies, such as the police departments in Miami and Tampa, have not complied with the requirement to report seatbelt citation data.  Moreover, the report asserts that documented differences in seatbelt usage between blacks and whites do not explain the racial disparities in the seatbelt citation rates the report describes.  The ACLU is calling on the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate, and on the state legislature to pass a law penalizing law enforcement agencies that do not comply with the seatbelt law’s reporting requirements.

Consult an Orlando civil rights attorney

If your civil rights have been violated, the dedicated Orlando and Miami civil rights lawyers of The Baez Law Firm can help.  We have the experience and skill necessary to defend and restore your rights, and to help you obtain compensation for the harm you have suffered.  Contact us today for a consultation.

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