Police in Illinois are expected to stop 38,000 drivers this year for having windshield obstructions, an increase of 91 percent since 2004, according to an analysis by the Chicago Tribune.
Police can--and do--pull drivers over for anything police deem to "materially obstruct" a driver's view. This means anything from handicapped placards to air fresheners.
The Tribune article mentions several "gotcha" moments in Illinois when windshield obstructions led to arrests for more serious crimes. In one example, a driver was stopped for having a hanging deodorizer, but then arrested for illegally possessing Xanax.
Based on the state's track record for traffic stops, minorities could be disproportionately affected. In general, minorities are 13 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers, and 8 percent more likely to be cited for an offense, according to a Illinois at Chicago study.
The Chicago Reporter took on a similar topic this spring, reporting on racial profiling in traffic stops in our March/April 2009 issue.
Have you been pulled over for trying to eliminate the smells inside your car? We'd love to hear your stories in the comments section.
--Compiled by Christopher Danzig