NPD Open Data Portal

spreadsheet Motor Vehicle Citation Operator Demographics, 2014-YTD (summary data)

This table displays the escalating outcomes of motor vehicle stops.  On the lower end of the spectrum are verbal warnings and on the higher end are arrests.  Our overall goal of conducting motor vehicle stops is improving roadway safety.  Sometimes we stop cars for violations we observe with the vehicle such as an expired inspection sticker or a broken piece of equipment.  In other instances we stop vehicles for operator behavior such as speeding or erratic operation.  When officers conduct car stops for an initial violation, they never know what the outcome will be.  Sometimes we learn that the driver has a warrant for their arrest, that the operator is impaired by alcohol, or that the occupants are engaging in some other crime.  Therefore, after an initial stop the citation may include a variety of charges that are only realized after the officer conducts their investigation. 

How do officers decide what type of enforcement option to use?  This is probably the most frequent question about car stops that we get from community members.  When it comes to verbal warnings, written warnings, or civil citations (monetary fees), officers have a great deal of discretionary power to decide the outcome.  The most common factor that is considered is the severity of the violation.  When it comes to criminal charges or arrest, officers have less discretionary power.  One of the most common offenses that officers write criminal applications for is a revoked registration.  Officers rarely, if ever, issue warnings for these violations.  A vehicle with a revoked registration is not insured and cannot be operated on a public way.  These vehicles must be registered and, in most cases, towed.  This is also true for the other most common motor vehicle offense that is arrestable; suspended licenses.  Officers rarely, if ever, issue warnings or civil citations to these drivers.  So, if an officer stops a vehicle for an equipment or operation violation and then learns that the vehicle has a revoked registration or the driver has a suspended license, the officer has little discretion when it comes to outcome.

Finally, demographic data about drivers including gender, race, and ethnicity, are typically entered when citation information is put into the computer system that we use.  Each traffic citation is entered using its own unique number.  When we need statistical information we search the citations that have been entered into the system.  When drivers are stopped and are only issued a verbal warning, no citation entry is made and therefore the database that we usually search will not gather this data.  It was brought to our attention that this is a significant amount of data that we should be collecting.  We agree.  After hearing this feedback we have been working to better collect demographic data for verbal warnings.  While officers have been working to document this information, extracting it from our current software system has been a hurdle.  We have met with representatives from our software company to improve this issue, but have not been able to resolve it.  We’re optimistic that with future software updates our system will be better able to produce this data.

2018 Motor Vehicle Stop Demographic Data- Race and Ethnicity                     
  Written Warning % of Total Warnings Municipal Citations % of Municipal Citations Civil Citation  % of Total Civil Citations Criminal Charges % of Total Criminal Charges Arrest % of Total Arrests Total Total %
American Indian or Alaska Native 2 0.10% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 2 0.05%
Asian or Pacific Islander 42 1.80% 0 0.00% 11 1.40% 3 1.30% 3 2.30% 59 1.67%
Black 107 4.50% 2 4.10% 30 3.90% 30 13.20% 21 16.00% 190 5.36%
Hispanic 146 6.20% 1 2.00% 44 5.70% 36 15.80% 24 18.30% 251 7.09%
Middle Eastern or East Indian 3 0.10% 0 0.00% 1 0.01% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 4 0.11%
White 2,044 86.60% 44 89.80% 685 88.40% 159 69.70% 82 62.60% 3,014 85.10%
Missing 15 0.60% 2 4.10% 4 0.50% 0 0.00% 1 0.80% 22 0.62%
TOTAL 2,359 49 775 228 131 3,542
2017 Motor Vehicle Stop Demographic Data- Race and Ethnicity
Written Warning % of Total Warnings Municipal Citations % of Municipal Citations Civil Citation  % of Total Civil Citations Criminal Charges % of Total Criminal Charges Arrest % of Total Arrests Total Total %
American Indian or Alaska Native 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 1 0.10% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 1 0.02%
Asian or Pacific Islander 58 2.00% 1 1.60% 6 0.90% 5 2.00% 3 1.60% 73 1.77%
Black 111 3.80% 4 6.60% 32 4.70% 35 13.70% 19 10.10% 201 4.88%
Hispanic 199 6.80% 2 3.30% 55 8.10% 55 21.50% 29 15.30% 340 8.25%
Middle Eastern or East Indian 6 0.20% 0 0.00% 2 0.30% 1 0.40% 0 0.00% 9 0.21%
White 2542 86.80% 51 83.60% 586 85.90% 160 62.50% 133 70.40% 3,472 84.33%
Missing 13 0.40% 3 4.90% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 5 2.60% 21 0.51%
TOTAL 2,929 61 682 256 189 4,117
2016 Motor Vehicle Stop Demographic Data- Race and Ethnicity
Written Warning % of Total Warnings Municipal Citations % of Municipal Citations Civil Citation  % of Total Civil Citations Criminal Charges % of Total Criminal Charges Arrest % of Total Arrests Total Total %
American Indian or Alaska Native 1 0.03% 0 0.00% 1 0.11% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 2 0.04%
Asian or Pacific Islander 53 1.60% 0 0.00% 9 1.02% 4 1.49% 3 1.20% 69 1.44%
Black 165 5.00% 2 3.20% 50 5.60% 33 12.20% 19 7.50% 269 5.61%
Hispanic 208 6.30% 4 6.30% 68 7.70% 57 21.00% 31 12.30% 368 7.68%
Middle Eastern or East Indian 8 0.20% 0 0.00% 3 0.30% 0 0.00% 1 0.40% 12 0.25%
White 2871 86.50% 52 82.50% 750 84.70% 176 64.90% 182 72.20% 4,031 84.13%
Missing 14 0.40% 5 7.90% 4 0.50% 1 0.40% 16 6.30% 40 0.83%
TOTAL 3,320 63 885 271 252 4,791
2015 Motor Vehicle Stop Demographic Data- Race and Ethnicity
Written Warning % of Total Warnings Municipal Citations % of Municipal Citations Civil Citation  % of Total Civil Citations Criminal Charges % of Total Criminal Charges Arrest % of Total Arrests Total  Total % 
American Indian or Alaska Native 1 0.00% 0 0.00% 1 0 0 0 0 2 0.03%
Asian or Pacific Islander 56 1.50% 0 0.00% 25 2.50% 7 2.53% 4 1.60% 92 1.74%
Black 151 4.10% 4 4.30% 51 5.20% 35 12.70% 25 10.10% 266 5.04%
Hispanic 217 5.90% 5 5.40% 54 5.50% 47 17.00% 33 13.40% 356 6.75%
Middle Eastern or East Indian 9 0.20% 0 0.00% 1 0.10% 0 0 0 0 10 0.18%
White 3228 87.90% 80 86.00% 848 86.40% 186 67.40% 183 74.10% 4525 85.84%
Missing 11 0.30% 4 4.30% 2 0.20% 1 0.40% 2 20 0.37%
TOTAL 3,673 93 982 276 247 5,271
2014 Motor Vehicle Stop Demographic Data- Race and Ethnicity
Written Warning % of Total Warnings Municipal Citations % of Municipal Citations Civil Citation % of Total Civil Citations Criminal Charges % of Total Criminal Charges Arrest % of Total Arrests Total Total % 
American Indian or Alaska Native 0 0 1 0.09% 0 0 0 0 1 0.02%
Asian or Pacific Islander 37 1.50% 14 1.32% 4 1.54% 2 1.11% 57 1.38%
Black 65 2.60% 3 3.40% 50 4.72% 20 7.72% 17 9.44% 152 3.68%
Hispanic 117 4.60% 11 12.60% 57 5.38% 50 19.30% 28 15.55% 252 6.11%
Middle Eastern or East Indian 0 0 0 1 0.09% 0 0 0 0 1 0.02%
White 2316 91.25% 68 78.20% 936 88.38% 184 71.04% 131 72.77% 3567 86.53%
Missing 3 0.10% 5 5.70% 0 0 2 10 0.24%
TOTAL 2,538 87 1,059 258 180 4,122

NPD: Located at 29 Center Street, Northampton MA 01060 | Emergencies: 911 | Business Line: 413-587-1100 | Fax: 413-587-1137