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Would you allow your vehicle to be searched?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Would you allow your vehicle to be searched?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 8, 2011


Suppose you get stopped some night. The trooper tells you that you have a taillight out (or a headlight or a license plate light). Your driver's license and insurance are in order, and you think you'll be on your way with a warning (it'll be written, not verbal).

Then he (or she) says, "You don't mind if I search your vehicle, do you?"

Suddenly your mind is racing. "Darned right, I mind," you are thinking. But do you say it? There is no one else around. The trooper is armed, of course. So you quickly think through your options.

Then the trooper says, "Of course, you don't have to let me search. But, if you don't, I'll have to ticket you for the light (no warning). Might have to check your entire vehicle for safe operating condition, too." You think about the right front tire that is a little thin. And how the horn doesn't work all the time.

Intimidated yet? Oh, did I mention that you are Hispanic or black?

According to an Associated Press article, the Illinois State Police might have a problem with racial profiling. Troopers "...were nearly four times more likely to ask Hispanic drivers to allow a search and three times more likely to ask black drivers (than to ask white drivers), according to the ACLU."

The AP says that State numbers indicate that "police are actually more likely to find illegal contraband among white drivers."

The ACLU said "that a (State) panel created in 2006 to study racial profiling had never even met." Fancy that.



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