This case alleges that the City of Buffalo uses vehicle checkpoints in Black and Latino communities to generate revenue. Individuals receive multiple tickets during a single stop that can last as long as 45 minutes. According to the complaint, 40% of the checkpoints were located in 3 Buffalo census tracts, each of which is more than 88% Black. The City of Buffalo created the Buffalo Traffic Violations Agency (BTVA) to handle the adjudication of traffic violations in the City of Buffalo, and under state law, the City keeps almost all of the revenue collected from traffic tickets. After the checkpoints were instituted in 2015, there was a 92% increase in the number of traffic tickets issued in the City. One class member was given a $180 ticket for each of her four tinted windows — a total of $720. If a person cannot afford to pay the fines imposed, their driver’s license is suspended. Black drivers in Buffalo are four times more likely than white drivers to have their licenses suspended. Plaintiffs allege that the City’s checkpoints violate their Fourth Amendment right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and that the location of the checkpoints constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of race and/or national origin. They further allege that the City’s financial incentive to ticket, convict and fine defendants violates due process.
Pending before the United States District Court for the Western District of New York