A bill has passed the state Senate that would require the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to include in its handbook for drivers a section on a person’s civil rights during a traffic stop.
Assembly Bill 2918 — authored by Assemblyman and former Pasadena Mayor Chris Holden — would require the handbook to include information that addresses the “extent and limitations of a peace officer’s authority during a traffic stop and the rights of drivers and passengers.”
“The driver’s handbook includes suggestions on how to conduct one’s self during a stop, but stops short of stating the rights of the driver,” said Holden in a statement issued last week. “Being informed of these rights is critical in situations that can quickly go from calm to worse.”
The handbook includes some rules of the road, emergency procedures and precautions against driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. It also includes information on such things as rail transit safety, abandonment of animals on a highway, and the importance of respecting the right-of-way of others.
If the bill passes the Assembly and is signed by the governor, Holden’s additions would be published in the handbook’s next possible revision.
This language used in the new information to be included in the handbook will be developed by the DMV and the state Department of Justice after consulting with police officials and civil justice advocates.
“Studies show that people of color in California are most affected by traffic stops. Safety is paramount and staying informed of the driver’s rights can help alleviate stress and avoid escalations caused by being on edge,” said Holden.
The state has never collected data from police departments identifying racial demographics involving people involved in traffic stops.
In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA), which requires law enforcement agencies to collect basic information during police stops in response to growing concerns about racial profiling and police misconduct.