Civil Liberties

No More Traffic Cops

Returning traffic enforcement and criminal law enforcement to their proper spheres could put both police and drivers at ease.


In April, a Minnesota police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, during a traffic stop, supposedly after mistaking her gun for a Taser. That same week, a Virginia police officer was fired after the release of body camera footage that showed him pepper-spraying and handcuffing a black Army lieutenant who had the temerity to ask why he was being pulled over.

Incidents like those, along with the high-profile deaths of motorists such as Philando Castile and Sandra Bland, underline the dangers of asking armed police officers to enforce traffic laws. Many reformers argue that the task should instead be assigned to unarmed civilians.

"One-third of police-civilian contacts in our country happen through traffic stops," UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz noted in a 2018 Suffolk University Law Review article. "Eleven percent of police killings nationwide in 2015 occurred following traffic stops, and people killed following traffic stops are disproportionately likely to be unarmed."

This situation is largely a result of Supreme Court decisions that have weakened Americans' Fourth Amendment rights and expanded law enforcement's power to detain and search drivers. With the Court's blessing, civil traffic enforcement has become a pretext for criminal investigations aimed at discovering contraband and seizable cash.

Traffic stops are also high-stress situations for officers. Police academies, "warrior mentality" courses, and use-of-force simulators all drill into officers' brains the fear that they could be killed in a split second during a traffic stop. Such killings do occur, but they're rare, happening in one out of 6.5 million traffic stops, according to a 2019 analysis by University of Arkansas law professor Jordan Blair Woods.

What would American policing look like if cops stopped issuing tickets to speeders and jerks? We may soon see. Berkeley, California, last summer approved police reforms that included reassigning traffic enforcement to a newly created Department of Transportation.

After last September's fatal shooting of Allan Feliz, who was initially pulled over for a seat belt violation, New York Attorney General Letitia James likewise recommended that the New York Police Department step away from traffic enforcement. James' office found that the cops involved in the traffic stop were not criminally culpable for the shooting. But it concluded that the incident was avoidable, noting that the "vast majority of traffic stops—including this one—do not involve criminal conduct."

A traffic ticket should be a mundane, mildly irritating experience for all parties involved, not a life-or-death moment. Returning traffic enforcement and criminal law enforcement to their proper spheres could put both police and drivers at ease.

NEXT: Brickbat: Getting Medieval

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  2. AGWs (armed government workers) won't know how to act if traffic is removed from their activities. The ticket industry is a multibillion dollar business, usually comprised of chicken-shit charges, that can only be enFORCED by an armed thug.

    How will we get along if there are no more losers pointing lidar at someone? Intelligent folks will figure it out, and it won't involve cameras every two feet.

    1. I don't know why anyone pays the cops to harass them in their own neighborhoods. Traffic policing is ridiculous.

      1. A friend of mine is a cop. He told me a while back that they set up to catch people coming into their municipality in the morning and to catch people leaving in the afternoon. The reason behind this is that the majority of stops won't be people who live and vote in the municipality.

        By the way, a while back Reason was in favor of traffic stops when it was in the name of DUI. What changed?

        1. When was that? I don't remember seeing anything like that. As I recall, they have been solid in opposing DUI checkpoints and I have a hard time imagining anyone at Reason arguing for more traffic stops for the sake of DUI enforcement.

        2. So it's about extracting revenue from drivers, not traffic safety.

          1. Exactly. Policing for profit.

        3. We need to lay some of these people off if they don't have anything more important to do than stop people going back and forth to work.

      2. >>“ I don’t know why anyone pays the cops to harass them in their own neighborhoods. ”

        They don’t. The police “pay for themselves” through various fees and through civil forfeiture. Also, they general target people who don’t live in that neighborhood. We have somehow constructed a modern day analogue to the highwaymen and bandits of old without any technically criminal activity.

    2. Mostly this. Good luck ever getting rid of traffic cops. They make the bulk of many municipalities incomes. They'd sooner cut off their own legs. Besides, funding your city via traffic fines is win win. You get to keep taxes low and look "tough on crime".

      1. It's so bad that Reason has run articles about towns that disbanded their police department because all it did was issue traffic tickets to pay its own budget.

      2. They are not proposing the end of traffic tickets and traffic court and all that sweet extortion; only to collect it by cheaper means.

        1. And how would this eliminate traffic court? Are we abandoning due process if the ticket is written by a "civilian" state agent?

        2. Damn it. Misread that, letters.

      3. Over the last few years we've had several local police departments shut down because they were not generating enough fine revenue to pay for themselves. Go figure.

    3. Yeah, it's about revenue generation. When you see a cop measuring the clearance of a vehicle or using a tint meter on windows, it's only about money or petty enforcement,

    4. The actions Berkley is considering will result in more cops shot by people who are driving without licenses. The interactions with cops that result in a driver being shot are precipitated by the driver being wanted by police, usually for a felony that involved a gun. This is why THE POLICE handle traffic stops. As usual, Reason equating the fact that "the vast majority of traffic stops" are mundane affairs ignores the fact that a certain percentage involve people who are hardened criminals who will do anything to keep from returning to prison. Their main chance of being caught is during a traffic stop. Using unarmed Transportation Dept. employees to handle traffic stops makes no more sense than using social workers to respond to domestic disputes. The fact remains that traffic stops and domestic disputes are the two most dangerous jobs for cops. Replacing them with unarmed government employees is ignorant, as both situations often turn into extremely dangerous situations, and anyone except police are not equipped to handle them.

  3. I recently asked about my cities policy on traffic enforcement and on the idea of less interactive enforcement. Instead of a traffic stop just photograph the license plate and send the owner a ticket. The response I got is that this violate a person's privacy, as if a traffic stop does not. So we are left in a conundrum that if we want people to drive safely we must either have traffic stops, give up some privacy, or of course just follow the traffic rules.

    1. or of course just follow the traffic rules
      What are speed traps? I'll take Bullshit Laws Created Expressly So That People Could Be Fined For Breaking Them for $400 Alex.

      1. In San Diego some time back they got caught shortening the yellow light time at intersections with red light cameras to increase the number of tickets they would give.

        Perverse incentives abound when you automate law enforcement.

    2. I though we did not like red light cameras, on principle?

      1. Is that the case or is it that red light cameras don't let you play the odds. You figure that on most intersection the chance of a police car being present is maybe 1% or less so you can chance pushing a yellow. With a camera there are no odds. It is just there and its attention is focused on one thing.

    3. Even New jersey abandoned its red light camera program.

    4. "I recently asked about my cities policy on traffic enforcement..."

      Somebody is going to get pulled over.

  4. This'll be a thing until the first unarmed Traffic Enforcement Officer gets shot or stabbed, and then it'll be back to armed cops again.

    1. One less bureaucrat is likely a boon to liberty.

    2. And there cant possibly be any downside to removing traffic enforcement form the police. Everyone will play along and no one will be harmed.

      1. people will acknowledge their infractions and thank the public servant for a job well done. Hire private security to protect your person and property.

    3. Yup

      "What would American policing look like if cops stopped issuing tickets to speeders and jerks?"

      A lotta dead government agents.

  5. "We may soon see. Berkeley, California, last summer approved police reforms that included reassigning traffic enforcement to a newly created Department of Transportation."

    Which will simply create specialized traffic cops.

    1. Let me guess, if they "smell marijuana" they will be allowed to detain you for up to an hour until the police arrive and subsequently call a K9 unit... or you can just let him search your car :^)

      1. In Berkeley? They're not calling the cops, they're going to ask for you to share.

        1. I'm pretty sure if they DON'T smell marijuana they're going to get suspicious there. Obviously you're from out of town or hiding something.

  6. "After last September's fatal shooting of Allan Feliz, who was initially pulled over for a seat belt violation, New York Attorney General Letitia James likewise recommended that the New York Police Department step away from traffic enforcement."

    Maybe we should not a "for your own good" traffic violations rather than ones that put other people on the road at risk?

    1. We can debate whether or not seat belt violations are worth a traffic ticket. I could see an argument for only requiring a fine if and when the driver is injured in an accident, thereby spending requiring more taxpayer money be spent on the driver's carelessness, and I could envision permitting insurance companies to deny or penalize claims if the evidence shows that the injured party was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. The counter argument is that because a seat belt can help a driver to maintain or regain control of a vehicle during an incident, not wearing one is making a driver more likely to injure others. That bein said, it's important to also remember that he wasn't shot for not wearing a seatbelt; Feliz was shot because he gave a false identity to the police, which happened to have several warrants (albeit for minor offenses), and attempted to flee the scene in a fashion that led officers to believe they might be severely hurt or killed.

  7. Traffic enforcement has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with revenue. It's a tax on the little guy and an excuse to initiate a search that could result in asset forfeiture. Governments are not going to give up this revenue stream. Nope. Ain't gonna happen.

    1. I've read that American drivers are some of the worst in the world because we don't drive according to the conditions, we drive according to the signs. Why? Because driving in America means trying to get from point A to point B without getting a ticket.

      1. I have driven overseas. Italy was terrifying.

        Some, I am sure is common understanding of roads, likely behaviors of other drivers, where hazards (road, police, etc) are and such thus improving predictability. Lack of that understanding leads to stress,

        But US drivers aren't especially bad drivers.

        1. "I have driven overseas. Italy was terrifying."
          What? You didn't like the sidewalk being used as the passing lane? 🙂

          1. Not when I am trying to park on the sidewalk!

        2. France was way worse than anything I've dealt with stateside. Try entering one of those roundabout thingys. Its like a racetrack.

        3. Greece and Turkey were just constant games of chicken.

        4. In one cab ride form the airport to my hotel in Rome, the cab was in 3 separate collisions. None of which anyone stopped for, all of which were because the concept of lanes seemed to be more of a guideline that actual rules. I was warned beforehand about the driving in Italy, which is why I was in a cab.

      2. We drive according to the signs? Where the fuck is this? Where I live we drive according to the conditions unless we either see a cop or approach a known regular posting.

        Having driven up and down the east coast and into the the only place I've ever seen where the signs are followed with regularity is Virginia.

        1. That's the way I drive.

      3. Whoever wrote that has clearly not been many places, maybe just within northern Europe.

        In India every car has dents because low-speed collisions are so common. In China I can see no indication that traffic signs actually change behavior and the only reason there aren't more accidents is that drivers are all used to everyone trying to get ahead in ways that would cause accidents here in the States. Some American friends were moving to China and taking their vehicle. Part of the requirement from their employer was that they have it fitted with bullbars and that they hire a driver and never try to drive it themselves there.

        American drivers are pretty good and courteous compared to many places I've been.

      4. No. American drivers are not particularly competent (utter crap compared to Germans or Brits) but nowhere near the worst in the world. That goes to Saudi drivers imo. A lot of money so everyone has cars and the enshallah mindset where death is entirely determined by Allah and not by anything the driver does. So - no rules. And it's not just younger drivers. If you don't see bodies and wrecked cars on the side of the road, then you just haven't driven far enough.

        Indonesia and Brazil are bad too.

    2. Traffic enforcement has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with revenue.

      Disagree. Your definition of safety might be different than theirs, but trust me, this ain't about revenue. It's about safety. Yes, it's bullshit, but it's 148% safety.

      1. And to provide a little color for you, Seattle doesn't make any significant revenue off of "moving violations". I wont' bother to waste time looking for it, but about a year or two ago there was an article in one of the local rags about how Seattle police hardly ever write speeding tickets. (If you drive in seattle, it's for two reasons: 1. Seattle Drivers tend to drive 5-10mph below the speed limit and are some of the most spaced out drivers you'll ever have the displeasure of driving behind; 2. Traffic is clogged so much of the time, that reaching the speed limit is a fucking miracle).

        Where I came from in the Southwest, yes, speeding tickets are a major source of revenue. The entire Southwest is basically one big speed trap, and anyone who's ever lived there will know what I'm talking about. But that's not true in every city.

        1. So everyone in Seattle is stoned.

          Around here all traffic revenue goes into the state's general fund, so there isn't the same incentive as in states where municipalities or police departments keep the loot.

          But as a general rule I figure if traffic enforcement was about safety they'd go after the assholes, instead of giving grandma a ticket for driving the same speed as the rest of the traffic.

          1. So everyone in Seattle is stoned.

            If only. It's usually an alarmingly bad driver in a Prius. The Prius tends to be chosen in Seattle because the person driving doesn't believe in cars-- or driving in general, but because reality dictates that a car is still necessary (Public transport is for dirty working class) they put in the minimum effort needed to learn the graceful techniques required to steer a vehicle competently, make turns efficiently, and you know, fucking GO when the light turns green.

          2. Empirical facts.

            Seattle falls hard for Prius, ‘the most liberal car ever’

            Lots of Seattleites drive the green status symbol, all right, but for the highest rate of Prius ownership, look south.

            What is the quintessential Seattle car?

            Recently, when I wrote about the local love affair with Subarus, some readers weighed in: “What about the Toyota Prius?”

            They have a point. As the top-selling hybrid — Urban Dictionary defines it as “the most liberal car ever” — the Prius conforms nicely with Seattle’s environmentalist ethos. The distinctively styled sedan has become a kind of green status symbol, according to a recent study on Prius owners, an example of “conspicuous conservation.”

            If the outdoorsy Subaru represents Seattle’s free-spirited inner child, then the Earth-friendly Prius plays the role of responsible parent.

            1. Oh, forgot to include this:

              They fit the stereotype: liberal, affluent, white.

              1. I like the way Jeremy Clarkson pronounces Prius. He says "pious" with an r.

              2. Cars have been designed so that we don't have much smog...but cars, like the Prius, give us clouds of smug.
                H/T South Park.

            2. The Subaru wagons and SVUs have certainly displaced the Priuses around here as the rolling "I Can't Drive" signs.

        2. When I drove through Arizona into California on I-10, pretty much did 90-95 between Phoenix and LA

          1. It's a risk. Back in the day, I'd let someone like you go by, get about a 1/4 mile ahead and then match the speed. You were the bait.

          2. BTW in New Mexico, state patrol has mobile radar. Meaning no hiding or standing trap required. They drive down the highway and check the speed of traffic in the opposing lanes.

            It's possible they may not use it anymore though because I can't find an internet image of what I'm talking about.

          3. FYI, New Mexico State Police use mobile radar, meaning they simply drive down the interstate and check the speed of opposing traffic, no trap or 'hiding' required. It's been a long time but when I was there in the 80s the mobile radar unit was this big hourglass shaped thing bolted to the driver's side.

            A quick web search suggests that they've improved the tech and it can hide inside the police vehicle.

        3. Every traffic engineer worth a damn says speed limits are too low, and Seattle lowers theirs? You keep being you, Seattle.

    3. Traffic enforcement has nothingnto so with safety....I cant imagine being this isiotic or typing somethingnthis idiotic.

      Do you know what the leading cause of death is for people under 30?

      How many people do you know who have been killed or lost family, or had them paralyzed?

      1. Do you know what the leading cause of death is for people under 30?


      2. Not a lot of commuters in this commentariat. I have to get on it nearly every day to avoid some poor innocent driver on their fucking smart phone.

        I’m sure the Glorious People’s Traffic Guard will come up with a solution that beats having the threat of law enforcement to make people not drive like assholes. Perhaps impromptu struggle sessions at the scene of accidents.

        1. make people not drive like assholes

          In my experience the assholes are those clogging the left lane while cruising along at the speed limit. In my wife's it's those that run up the right lane to get around them. So how do you define "asshole" such that your typical ~105 IQ cop can't fuck it up?

          1. 105? That’s generous. I would expect more like 85 or 90 from those people.

    4. ^^^This. I hate the bait and switch where the author cites the reason for the stop and then adds that the person was killed, as though they were killed because they were violating some minor traffic law. "No one should die for having a broken taillight" is the most idiotic statement. Would be great to see a list of everyone shot by the police and what they were doing when the shooting happened. I think we all know what it looks like. Tragic accidents (tazer vs pistol) happen but are very rare, otoh, even that guy was resisting and reaching back into his car while being detained by the police, if I remember correctly (they are all starting to blur together).

  8. We need to move from compliance officers and tax discovery officers back to peace officers.

  9. In April, a Minnesota police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, during a traffic stop, while trying to arrest him for a felony gun warrant supposedly after mistaking her gun for a Taser.

    Let's be a little honest here.

    1. True, but if he lived in a constitutional carry state he would have never got the original warrant. The original 'crime' was tyrannical itself (regardless of how good or bad of a person he was).

      1. No, I think Constitutional carry states still deny convicted felons of being able to possess a firearm.
        The due process of a felony conviction satisfying the Constitution in denying that right.

    2. Let's be a little honest if you encountered a felon with a firearm you would pee yourself then call the Police.

      1. 1 Unfalsifiable/False Assumption
        2. Deflection
        3. Fuck off

  10. IMO this is close to the logical conclusion, but not all the way there.

    "A traffic ticket should be a mundane, mildly irritating experience."

    A traffic ticket largely should not exist in the first place. Very few traffic laws actually encourage safety, and very few of those actually produce a property dispute. Traffic safety should have almost nothing codified in law and should instead be codified and enforced by insurance companies. The 'laws' are then agreements and rules with insurance companies, and the 'tickets' are penalties and premium increases. Enforcement would likely be done via driving record, voluntary monitoring, and hired contractors who monitor/'police' the road.

    These companies compete on the market, so there is pressure to keep costs down and rules reasonable. This is also undoubtedly cheaper than paying for cops and funding the whole thing through taxation, and payment comes from the actual users. Finally, insurance has a financial incentive to produce safety, as they want to take in premiums but pay out fewer claims.

    1. Right. Pull the other one.
      Insurance companies love traffic tickets. That let's them raise premiums without having to pay anything out.

      Why do you think that insurance companies were donating breathalyzers to police departments? Good PR and to make money.

  11. There's quite a racial difference in the reasons given for a traffic stop according to a 2011 DOJ study

    Roughly 19% of stops for both black and white are for slower speed moving violations (lane change, stop sign, cell phone, etc).
    50% of stops for whites and 38% for blacks are for speeding
    22% of stops for whites and 33% for blacks are for vehicle defects or record checks.

    Idk whether blacks are just less likely to speed than whites - or whether those are actually the same but maybe the stops for vehicle defects and such are the 'extra attention' stops that are part of driving while black or driving while poor.

    1. "Idk whether blacks are just less likely to speed than whites"

      How many black NASCAR drivers are there?

    2. If you adjust for demographics blacks are over-represented here. Does that make the policies racist? Maybe or maybe not. Black Americans are disproportionately poorer and urban due to slavery followed by reconstruction followed by Jim Crowe followed by LBJs war on poverty / welfare. It may be that poorer people are more likely to have shitty cars and spotty documentation, and thus speed less and get repair/record checks more. Still, I stand by my comment above - remove government from road safety policing. Then we don't have to speculate.

      1. The bigger problem re race-motivated stops is street stops not traffic/road stops. Where you get the combo of NextDoor Karens calling 911 and lying - and cops who are much more willing to push things in a street stop.

        It's not so much that blacks/Hispanics get stopped that much more often. They do but it's only about 20-30% more. It's that they get stopped for pettier reasons in traffic stops - and in street stops where the behavior far more often (3x more often for black than white) turns into attempts to hassle/humiliate/escalate.

        Stopping people more frequently makes it much easier to find prima facie racism and officials don't want that hassle. But 'get-a-reaction racism'. That's different. Can always create the excuses and the very act of being defensive or being accused of racism will pull in all those who are only racist when the wagons need to be circled.

    3. but maybe the stops for vehicle defects and such are the ‘extra attention’ stops that are part of driving while black or driving while poor.

      More likely the latter than the former.

  12. Is there a market (and tech) solution? Since we can track vehicles in real time, what if we posted prices for exceeding the posted speed limit?

    And what if we banned the retarded "no-fault" approach to "accidents" and really made responsibly parties pay for the damage they caused? Including indentured service (can't call it slavery) for those without insurance?

    1. The market and tech solution is insurance. They already have monitoring offerings. They are voluntary, but may significantly reduce premiums. The government has no stake in reducing accidents and every incentive to extort revenue. Insurance companies generate revenue by reducing accidents (payouts) relative to premiums.

      There may be legitimate property crimes/property disputes for government to enforce/resolve. The vast majority of traffic laws concern "safety," and so are not valid property law. The government has no business enforcing them, whereas insurance is literally in the business of resolving accidents and incentivizing safety.

      1. Hmmm...I would think the "safety" would be the safety of someone else's life/property.

        1. TLDR; In my model safety is the product of strict liability, property law, and the insurance market. 'Safety' with regards to government is just a blank check to restrict and extort the citizenry as they see fit.

          The problem is that 'safety' is a completely open ended definition. There is no such thing as zero risk. If the law is predicated on safety, the law has no real limitation.

          In the model above people are still completely liable for damages and property transgressions (life and belongings). If they want to be insurable then they will reduce the risk into an acceptable range and pay premiums which cover what remains.

          If somebody is not insured they must drive safely or they will be unassisted in the event that they have to cover some liability. An uninsured driver would have to go to court to settle the property dispute. If they can't cover it then they may be garnished until they are, or some other mechanism. If there is a substantial crime like negligent homicide and/or fleeing the scene, well we already have legal mechanisms for that.

          I also have a problem with the notion that government road policing keeps us safe. It seems to me that most of the laws have zero or negligible impact on safety, but incur a tremendous cost to drivers (and revenue to the state).

  13. Besides someone booing at an individual kneeling during the anthem, nothing irritates me than traffic laws! Ok, maybe it does.

  14. Irritates me more than

  15. They'll just move to automated ticketing, they are not giving up that revenue stream. You're already being tracked anyway on the road, and it's a good bet they'll just start requiring either speed cameras or systems in vehicles to govern speed.

    The libertarian moment failed, once again.

    1. I mean, it's still libertarian if the phone companies voluntarily provide the government with your data, right?

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  17. TR;DR

    Too racist; Didn't read

  18. The naivety of the article and the commenters would be amusing if this viewpoint wasnt a common misconception of the gilded class. The reason why traffic stops can end in violence is many stops lead to arrests attempted for illegal activity warrants, drugs, etc. The fallacy police routinely execute innocent people during traffic stops is just that a fallacy.

    1. Thats not even half as ridiculous as the "we dont need traffic enforcement"
      Ive seen that experiment up close, and the xarnage that ensues

      Comebto Nashville. There is no traffic enforcement after midnight on the weekends. Its nor widely known, but it is the truth. Too few cops forbthe fights in bars as it is, nobody enforces traffic. Not even when they see it

      1. And almost every weekend, somebody is killed, either drunk pedestrians or by street racers

  19. When traffic cops escalation of minor driving infractions into life and death pursuits is killing toddlers, they need to be eliminated and we need to find both a better way toward road safety and better people to monitor it.

    "A 3-year-old boy was killed and his mother suffered serious injuries..."

    Police on our roads, even aside from their many abuses, are escalations to bad drivers and distractions to good drivers that make them less not more safe.

    1. Who escalated it?

    2. Did you actually read the article you linked to? The one where a police officer attempted a traffic stop after being called about a reckless, speeding driver, who then attempted to flee the officer and plowed into another vehicle? If you're driving 20 miles above the speed limit and are driving so poorly that other people are calling the cops about you, that's about as legitimate a traffic stop as it gets.

  20. Cops hardly shoot anyone in traffic stops. And there are thousands of those in a year. Reason is basically using the same logic Breitbart uses in arguing for less immigration - SOME illegals kill and rape people, so the only solution is strict border enforcement or less immigration.

    It's also rare for cops to actually confront violent criminals during traffic stop, but those situations do escalate into something more serious.

    What exactly do unarmed cops accomplish? 99% of the time they'll do what armed cops do - write tickets or make arrests. If they do confront someone violent, they'll be sitting ducks. A 150 pound female officer can cover only one guy with a taser. If they run away she'll have to call for back up since unarmed agent can't be chasing potentially armed criminals. More cost to taxpayers and more logistical hurdles.

  21. Traffic stops are the most common contact between cops and random people.

    Many of those random people have warrants out for their arrest, or they have done things that make them assume that the cops WANT to arrest them. This leads to incidents, including shootings.

  22. So you want to get rid of armed traffic police officers...hmmm...i guess there will be more dead traffic officers since not every stop is as innocent as you think. As an example, Tim McVeigh was arrested at a traffic stop. I am sure that goes a totally different way if the officer isn't armed.

  23. Without diving into the right or wrong of reasons for traffic stops, one thing that all the shootings have in common is a failure to either comply or calmly disagree. I've been pulled over a few times and never felt in fear for my life even when I had a firearm in my car (legally and permitted). Because I usually knew immediately what I was pulled over for and just took the ticket and went on my way. One time I didn't know why was due to an expired tag, which I actually had a paid for but forgot to put on the car. I calmly asked to cop to look it up that I had paid for the tag, but he wrote the ticket anyway. I was mad, and ultimately got ticket dismissed in court, but didn't scream or fight or try to run or anything stupid.

    I'm not preaching OBEY either, you should know your rights and refuse a search if you want to do that. But there's a way to do that that doesn't make a cop feel threatened to the point where you might get shot.

    There are certainly asshole cops who will escalate a situation especially for people who don't OBEY, but I figure most cops are just trying to do their job and there's no need to be disrespectful to them anymore than I need to scream at some poor minimum wage person at the fast-food counter that my burger was supposed to be a chicken sandwich. A little respect and common decency goes a long way as I see it.

  24. No victim = no crime.

  25. My God, "C.J.", are you unintelligent or just lazily under informed? Here's some investigative "Homework": Go on a solid month of "Ride-Alongs" for traffic and another one on "Domestic Violence" calls and then get back to us with a real world view (not a "Collitch" theoretical one) about what happens in the real world and how dangerous it can be.

  26. So, either the members of the Department of Transportation can force you to pull over - in which case they are cops no matter what you call them.

    or they can't.

    And if they can't, how do they deal with people who refuse to stop?

    Call the police?

    I hope no one is making the argument that law-abiding people will stop for them voluntarily. Because if you're law-abiding then you wouldn't be pulled over for a traffic violation in the first place.

    1. Going slightly over the speed limit isn't a crime. You don't have to stop calling yourself law abiding for going 10 over.

  27. Because of smuggling the US Coast Guard has always had the right to stop any vessel without probable cause and they have never had the problems the police have today. There is more to it than that.

    1. My buddy was in the Coast Guard and they got shot at semi-regularly during "traffic" stops. Perhaps we aren't hearing about it because no one has stood to gain from making a big deal out of it?

  28. The carnage from vehicle pursuits is nearly as problematic as the shootings. We have to stop allowing the cops to treat roadways as places to have a demolition derby over misdemeanors.

    1. Do you have some actual evidence that the problems are caused by the police treating the roadways a particular way rather than the criminals? Would you be upset to learn that your sister was raped by a guy who was pulled over with multiple warrants by the police but they let him go because it was too problematic to chase him?

  29. This news is important and it carries lot of weight

  30. “Traffic stops are also high-stress situations for officers.”

    So, if I understand this correctly, when traffic enforcement is taken out of the hands of officers and put in the hands of non-officers, traffic stops will no longer be high-stress situations.

    File under “What we’re they thinking?!”

  31. Why not use technology? For instance, maybe in high-violation areas like, say, red lights, we could deploy cameras that simply take a picture of violating vehicles and issue a citation/fine remotely.

    Would libertarians support such an enforcement regime?


  32. Hey “libertarian” author, wouldn’t these civilian traffic ticketers have the right to bear arms?

  33. I would limit traffic enforcement to aggressive / reckless driving focus patrols, specific sites or intersections that have had a lot of accidents, and accident response and investigation. Most other moving violations are penny ante stuff, are often used as pretexts for "investigation"... and can be handled with technology.

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