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Study Finds Traffic Tickets and Fines Correlated to Race

Police office giving a person of color a ticket.

According to a study on race, representation, and revenue published in March 2019 in the SAGE journal, it was determined that cities with larger African American populations rely on fines for revenue and fine residents more on a per capita basis. The study found that a one percent increase among the black population correlated to a five percent increase in per capita revenue from fines and a one percent increase in the share of the total revenue. 

The study, which looked at how these fines varied on the amount of crime and the level of public safety, budgetary stress, and racial composition of both the law enforcement agency and the population, studied a sample of 93 cities in California from 2009 to 2014. Interestingly enough, cities that appeared to rely the most on fines for revenue had among the highest number of black residents and a law enforcement presence that is whiter than its community.  Black drivers are 20 percent more likely to be ticketed when pulled over for speeding than white drivers.

Impacting Police Behavior

There are different reasons as to why all of this may be the case. The use of traffic tickets and civil asset forfeiture, unfortunately, impacts the behavior of law enforcement officers. Unsurprisingly, the government agencies that were better representatives of the racial and gender presence of their communities were shown to decrease the number of unfavorable outcomes. 

Many studies have found that minority residents and communities of color more commonly receive punishment for their actions. According to the study, cities that had at least 10 percent of black residents that are served by law enforcement whiter than the community rely 60 percent more on fines for revenue.

One option for bettering this situation is to eliminate incentives that the government may have for law enforcement to bring in revenue by ticketing people, otherwise known as “policing for profit.” (Much of the money collected from these tickets goes back into law enforcement’s budget.) Another option is to take money from the state level and evenly redistribute it at the local level. Additionally, another thing that can be done is to elect more people of color and ethnic minorities into meaningful positions. 

It is important to emphasize that this does not mean that all law enforcement is racist. This is not the case. However, what it does mean is that there is data evidencing a correlation between race and traffic ticketing

The Lawyers at AutoTrafficTickets.com Help Those in New York Who Have Been Issued a Traffic Ticket

If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal traffic violation – especially if you believe it to be issued on the basis of racial or other bias – it is important that you act as quickly as possible in order to recall the specific details of the incident, which could help to prove your innocence or establish a defense for your case. At AutoTrafficTickets.com, we understand what is at stake and can help to reduce your fines, or even get your ticket dropped altogether. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, call the attorneys of AutoTrafficTickets.com today!

Posted in: Traffic Tickets