Broken Tail Lights? You Should Get That Fixed, But Should You Get Pulled Over?

Broken Tail Lights? You Should Get That Fixed, But Should You Get Pulled Over?Nobody likes traffic stops. It slows down your ETA, that scene from Invincible plays through your head — it is a lot even when you’re law abiding. Thankfully, Oregon drivers will have one less occasion to get asked for their license and registration next year if a bill passes.

Senate Bill 1510 would limit police officers from initiating traffic stops for taillight, headlight or license plate light issues, as well as make officers require verbal consent to search a vehicle. Drivers will also not have to worry about getting fix-it tickets — those would be unenforceable unless the lighting or equipment violation was accompanied by another violation such as speeding.

One less reason is cause to celebrate, considering that not everyone simply goes home after traffic stops. Back in ye olden days when a cough in a classroom was not a head-turning event, a student asked my Criminal Law professor their thoughts on how to reduce the amount of deaths caused by police each year. While my Prof.’s answer was multi-pronged, I was struck with the simplicity of one of them — reduce how often the general public interacts with officers. And it seems like the minds behind Senate Bill 1510 had a similar thought in mind, given that:

Testimony on the bill was largely in support of the new restrictions on police stops, citing racial disparities in the Oregon criminal justice system and the use of pretextual police stops as a way to target minorities.

Am I saying that each cop sees each broken tail light as an excuse to break a neck? No. But it does happen, damned shame that it is. And while people should have their lights in order (read: get your shit fixed if its not already — driving is dangerous enough), I think that bills like this make the future a little brighter either way.

Proposed Law Would Limit Traffic Stops [Blue Mountain Eagle]

Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s.  He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at [email protected] and by tweet at @WritesForRent.