California Lawmaker Pursues Bill to Prohibit Minor Traffic Stops

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The legislation was first introduced in 2022, but it failed to advance.

A California state senator is pushing to pass a bill to prohibit most traffic stops for minor violations after the legislation failed last year.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 50, would restrict law enforcement from stopping drivers for low-level infractions, such as a broken taillight or an expired registration, unless the officer has an additional and separate reason for pulling the driver over.

“It will free up law enforcement to do the real work that they need to do instead of stopping folks just because a taillight is down,” Sen. Steven Bradford told news reporters at a rally about the bill at the State Capitol March 13.

The legislation was first submitted by Mr. Bradford in December 2022. The Senate passed the bill at the end of May 2023, but the session ended before it received a hearing on the Assembly Floor.

The senator then extended the bill for another year, allowing the legislation more time to be considered by the Assembly, according to his office.

In May, Mr. Bradford told senators the stops are disproportionately used against communities of color.

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“Having these unnecessary stops puts not only the community at greater safety [risk] but the law enforcement officers as well,” he said.

Several criminal justice reform advocates support the bill while some state law enforcement agencies and the California State Sheriffs’ Association oppose it.

“SB 50 really ties the hands of law enforcement to enforce all kinds of laws, including infractions,” Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux told ABC10 News Wednesday. “And, oftentimes, infractions lead to the discovery of more egregious and felonious types of activity.”

The National Urban League, a national civil rights and urban advocacy organization and a supporter of the measure, hosted a news conference during the rally. Others supporting the bill include Catalyst California, a racial justice advocacy group, Black Power Network, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, the California Faculty Association, and the Prosecutors Alliance of California.

“Pretextual stops inflict devastating harm on Californians of color—including dehumanization, economic extraction through fees and fines, physical violence through uses of force, and devaluation of life,” the prosecutors alliance said in a statement about the bill last year, according to a bill analysis.

Mr. Bradford’s office did not return a request for comment about when the senator planned to refile the legislation.

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