According to a recent analysis of traffic stop data, Virginia police are more likely to stop Black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers. Additionally, police are more likely to search or arrest non-white drivers during traffic stops.
What does this mean for drivers in Virginia?
What the report shows
Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services released a report that analyzes traffic stop data for a nine-month period. The analysis found that 30.8% of the 567,181 drivers stopped were Black, even though only 19.5% of the driving-age population in the state is Black.
Police searched 2.8% and arrested 1.8% of the Black drivers they stopped. They searched 2.1% and arrested 1.2% of the white drivers.
Hispanic drivers, who make up 8.9% of the state’s driving population, represent 9.5% of the drivers that police stopped. The police searched 2.9% and arrested 2.1% of Hispanic drivers.
What it means for drivers
If you are a non-white driver, police may be more likely to stop you in Virginia. This makes it important to understand your rights. If the police stop you, remember that they can use anything you say or do against you in court.
Depending on the locality, you may have to provide your name and ID if the police ask for it, but you are not required to volunteer any other information or consent to a search of your person or vehicle, though there may be some circumstances where the police can proceed with a search without your consent if they have a warrant or reasonable suspicion.
Educating yourself about your rights before you get stopped by the police is a good idea for all Virginia drivers.