Liberties advocates say Ontario’s new distracted driving law could target minorities

Officer says they'll use "subjective" judgment when deciding to pull over drivers

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Ontario’s new distracted driving law could disproportionately target racial minorities, according to civil liberties advocates.

Under the new law, which took effect on January 1st, 2019, distracted drivers can face a $1,000 fine, three-day license suspension and three demerit points.

Police told CBC News that they will use “subjective” judgment when deciding to pull over drivers on suspicion of distracted driving.

However, advocates say this type of discretion may result in increased cases of racial profiling.

“There’s a type of police officer in Ontario who believes in what they consider good old-fashioned policing involving a hunch. And if they don’t like the look of somebody, they pull them over,” Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, told CBC News.

“[Police could say] ‘I thought I saw you on your cellphone, or I thought I saw you looking down as if you were on a cellphone or texting somebody. And that’s why I pulled you over.'”

“[Police] discretion too often ends up being abused,” Toronto human rights lawyer Anthony Morgan also told CBC News. “That could lead to racial profiling.”

Source: CBC News

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