A Path to Non-Police Enforcement of Civil Traffic Violations

A Path To Non-Police Enforcement of Civil Traffic Violations

Executive Summary

To reduce police violence and abuses of power, officers’ contacts with the public can be limited by transferring some policing functions to non-police agencies that can better promote individual and societal well-being. One proposal to significantly decrease police encounters without compromising public safety is to remove civil traffic law enforcement from the duties of the police. This can be accomplished in two ways:

  • Transfer the enforcement of civil traffic laws to unarmed personnel in another agency dedicated to road safety that is not also tasked with the enforcement of criminal laws and prohibit police officers from enforcing those laws. (Criminal traffic violations, such as reckless driving and driving under the influence, could remain under the police’s jurisdiction.) This proposal will treat traffic violations as a public safety issue rather than as an excuse for pretextual investigative stops, which have led to many problematic police encounters.
  • Increase automation of traffic enforcement. By replacing traffic stops, automation eliminates police discretion, which can be exercised to enforce traffic laws selectively and discriminatorily.