Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Banning arrests for Class Cs, giving drivers notice, would improve traffic-stop culture

My favorite part about SB 271 by Sen. Konni Burton, and its companion, HB 567 by Rep. James White: Not only does the bill ban arrests for non-jailable offenses, preventing episodes like Sandra Bland's tragic arrest for failure to signal a lane change, the text includes this provision requiring police officers to inform motorists of that fact:
(a) An officer who stops a motor vehicle as a result of a person's alleged commission of a misdemeanor under this subtitle that is punishable by a fine only shall promptly notify the person that:
(1) the alleged offense is a misdemeanor under this subtitle that is punishable by a fine only; and 
(2) the officer may not arrest a person solely on the basis of that offense.
(b) The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement by rule shall specify the language that is required to be included in the notification described by Subsection (a).
That will significantly alter the culture of and interactions at traffic stops between police and motorists, foregrounding motorists' rights in their conversation as opposed to only the officers' prerogative, and letting the driver know what to expect. At present, officers in many departments are trained to do the opposite: Pepper drivers with disconcerting personal questions trying to find a reason to search or arrest them. But if drivers know what they're being stopped for and that it will not result in their arrest, that will lower tensions at traffic stops and make the situation more predictable and manageable for all parties.


Anonymous said...

I despised Burton when the Texas Teanuts elected her, and quiet honestly was shocked that she would author such a law. Indeed, I am almost certain that there will be other parts to this bill that will actually further the authoritarian principles of the Tea Party tucked away and carefully hidden before this bill becomes law. But as it is currently written it is a very good bill that everyone but the most police state minded should support.

Lianne Russell said...

You obviously don't know what the tea party movement was about. Liberty and equity along with limited government are the tree tenets of the movement.

Both Burton and white were favorites of the liberty minded people. Maybe instead of calling folks like me names, actually spend some time getting to know us. You might find allies on issues that we all can agree on.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thank you, Lianne. Saved me the trouble.

Anonymous said...

Sending for information in Texas, Texas states that there is no such thing as a "Drivers License"? Any comments?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I suppose I could scan mine for you, 12:20, but even without such tangible evidence, I'm pretty sure Texas didn't "state" that, since it's not true.

Charlie O said...

That's because it is a Driver License (singular). Says so right on the front. Whereas in PA, we have a "Driver's License".

Soronel Haetir said...

At least it's not a "Driver Identification Card".

Anonymous said...

And when the suspect refuses to identify himself, what is the officer to do?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@12:30, the don't arrest provision only applies if the defendant makes a written promise to appear in court. The citation includes "the name and address of the person charged"

txchick811 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
txchick811 said...

Failure to identify is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or up to a $2000.00. It would still be an arrestable offense. Simply because the initial stop isn't does not mean that an officer can't develop probable cause to arrest for a different offense.

Anonymous said...

Display a valid operator license and proof of financial responsibility. Answer any question with your name, DOB, and address. Treat the encounter like a US POW: name rank, and serial number.

john said...

yes, sure, sounds great, like term limits, but those colluding in the "legal profession" "law enforcement" industry will never allow it.
Judges in court will tell you it's not their job to notice you or provide the law, etc.
You don't even want to know drivers' licenses are for commercial drivers, and THEY must be noticed, including by road signs.
Is the Rep ignorant or just grandstanding & pandering? These days, we see SO MUCH of the latter, or all of it at the same time. You're over there, so probably met her(?); I don't know.

john said...

wait, isn't it part of the job for the Cops to up the ante, by harassing towards resisting, getting that Class C UP to something that would bring in more revenue?
Then the Cops can insist they feared for their lives, and go on paid administrative leave, while the "law enforcement industry" works with courts & union to cover it up?
WHEN IS "YOUR" Driver License "Valid"? Because though you are not a municipality, when you register "your" car, you're treated as if one? And you need license, inspection, etc., as surely as if you were a "commercial driver"?
Bull, you can argue there are good cops, while just a few "bad apples;" FINE!; BUT IT'S THE SAME OLD SILENT MAJORITY ISSUE. They will never clean house or drain the swamp; even THEY know, from their endless fake news TV shows (pro-cop, pro-lawyer, pro-FBI, et al.), they must hunt down anyone who opposes their "union brother" power.
Thus, in another branch, IF We The Poor cannot afford to buy Legislators, WE HAVE NO "REPRESENTATION." Youse guys with voices might help. The various local TV "news" expose teams (of which in Houston there are a bushel & a peck) won't touch this stuff. No crossing the powers that might hunt THEM down.