New numbers released from the Illinois Department of Transportation reveal what many minorities already knew—that Hispanic, Black, and Asian drivers are more likely to be ticketed and more likely to be searched when stopped by police. As a result, the ACLU has called on the U.S. Department of Justice to review how the state police handle such searches.
The study involved all traffic stops in Illinois. It found that when white drivers were stopped, they were ticketed 55% of the time. For Hispanics, the rate was 65%; and Blacks and Asians were ticketed 62% of the time.
When it came to “consent searches”, minorities were twice as likely to be searched. Consent searches occur when there is no legal cause for the search but the officer asks if he can search anyways. More than 95% of drivers are asked consent to such searches. In Chicago, the rate at which minorities undergo consent searches was about 6 times that of white drivers, though Chicago cops were more even-handed when it came to ticketing.
Interestingly, even though minority motorists were searched more, assumingly because police thought they were more likely to have contraband in their possession, cops were more likely to find illegal things in the vehicles of white motorists. According to the Sun-Times, police found contraband in 24% of minority searches and 29% of white driver searches.
After the ACLU made their wishes known to the Department of Justice, Governor Pat Quinn asked the state police to review the issue themselves. Those results are expected in the coming weeks.
It’s one thing to feel like you might be targeted because of your race but it’s another thing to see the numbers that prove that police do act in a racially skewed manner. But if you are subsequently arrested for something found in your car, for instance, the officer’s possible bias in asking you for a search is swept under the rug.
When you are faced with criminal charges, you want to know that you’ll be treated fairly. If it’s found that your rights were violated at any stage of the search or arrest, there’s a chance the evidence in a drug case, for example, could be suppressed and the charges could be dropped. Looking out for these rights is the job of your defense lawyer. If you’re accused of a crime and unsure of what to do, contact our attorneys today for a free initial consultation.