The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday over the racial disparities in Illinois State Police searches during traffic stops. ACLU’s study of data maintained by ISP shows that Hispanic and African-American drivers were asked to submit to searches approximately three times more frequently than white drivers. Meanwhile, white drivers who consented to searches were about seven times more likely to actually have some contraband. The implication, of course, is that state police typically have some good reason to suspect a white driver is doing something illegal before they ask to search him, while many Hispanic and black drivers are being searched simply because of their race.
Notably, the study revealed that 94 percent of people who were asked to “consent” to the police searching their car did so. This was consistent across all races. This tends to show, unsurprisingly, that many motorists don’t feel free to refuse the warrantless search of their car, although it is their right to do so.
The ACLU complaint asks the DOJ to bar ISP officers from conducting “consent” searches during routine traffic stops, arguing that in addition to having a disparate impact on minority drivers, they are coercive and invade the privacy of motorists.
The full text of the complaint is available here.