Senate District 9
Cecil Thomas
Senator Thomas Pushes Bill to Prevent Traffic Stops for Front License Plate Violations
Legislation is a result of the shooting death of Samuel DuBose
December 2, 2016

COLUMBUS – Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) testified yesterday in favor of Senate Bill 202, which would make failure to display a front license plate a secondary traffic offense with a maximum fine of $25. Senator Thomas introduced the bill as a result of the fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing following a traffic stop for a missing front license plate. 

“As a former City of Cincinnati police officer of 27 years, spending the bulk of those years in patrol and investigation, I know firsthand that some officers engage in profiling by using minor equipment violations as a pretext for other investigatory stops. This violates the search and seizure rules of the U.S. Constitution,” said Senator Thomas. “These stops have cost urban cities millions in lawsuits.”

SB 202 would prohibit a law enforcement officer from doing any of the following solely because the owner or operator of a vehicle has failed to display a front license plate:

  • Stopping the motor vehicle to issue a ticket, citation, or summons for the violation

  • Causing the arrest or commencing a prosecution of the vehicle’s operator for the violation

  • Issuing a ticket, citation, or summons to the owner of a parked motor vehicle for the violation

  • Causing the arrest or commencing the prosecution of a vehicle’s owner for the violation

“It is these types of stops that erode good community-police relations and foster tension and distrust, resulting in unnecessary citizen complaints,” said Senator Thomas. “S.B. 202 is a win-win for everyone. It meets the needs of law enforcement and respects the community perception that plate violations as a primary stop are selectively enforced.” 

Senate Bill 202 received its first hearing yesterday in the Senate Transportation, Commerce, and Labor Committee. It was introduced by Senator Thomas in August of 2015.

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