Analyzing 2018 Traffic Stops in Connecticut

Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project (CTRP3)

By CTData Collaborative
March 2020

Total number of stops

In 2018, 508,361 traffic stops were conducted in Connecticut by local and state police, 6% less than 542,820 stops performed in 2017.

When broken down by driver's race and Hispanic ethnicity, one can see that the decline was not experienced by each demographic group the same way.

Compared to 2017, there was a nearly 9% drop in stops for white non-Hispanic drivers, from 360,602 down to 328,581.

For black non-Hispanic drivers at 86,720 stops, there was a 2% drop compared to 2017, although the number is still higher than that in 2016 (81,572), 2015 (81,927), and 2014 (83,000).

Drivers of Hispanic ethnicity (all races combined) were stopped 77,317 times in 2018, a 0.6% increase compared to 76,885 stops in 2017. The number of stops has been on a slow but steady rise since the project began in 2014. This could partially be explained by an increasing number of people who self-identify as Hispanic among Connecticut population.

There were 10,345 stops of Asian non-Hispanic drivers, an 8% decrease compared to 11,245 stops in 2017.

The number of non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives drivers stopped did not change much from the previous year (5,398 in 2018 vs 5,382 in 2017).

Reasons for stops

Police reports differentiate over a dozen reasons for a traffic stop, such as speed related, stop signal, seatbelt, cellphone, etc. Below is the bar chart representing percentage distribution of stop reasons for each race (only those identifying as non-Hispanic), as well as Hispanic ethnicity (with all races combined).

Top 5 reasons for stops

Speeding is the most common reason for stops for all drivers.

# White Black Asian Am. Indian / Alaska Native Hispanic ( all races)
1 🏎 Speed related (31%) 🏎 Speed related (23%) 🏎 Speed related (34%) 🏎 Speed related (34%) 🏎 Speed related (22%)
2 📃 Registration (10%) 💡 Defective Lights (11%) STC Violation (10%) STC Violation (12%) 📃 Registration (10%)
3 📱 Cell Phone (9%) 📃 Registration (10%) 🛑 Stop Sign (9%) Moving Violation (10%) 💡 Defective Lights (10%)
4 💡 Defective Lights (8%) 🚦 Traffic Control Signal (9%) Moving Violation (9%) 💡 Defective Lights (8%) 📱 Cell Phone (8%)
5 🛑 Stop Sign (8%) Moving Violation (8%) 💡 Defective Lights (8%) 📃 Registration (8%) 🚦 Traffic Control Signal (8%)

Outcomes of traffic stops

Traffic stops end up with one of 6 dispositions: a ticket, a verbal or written warning, a misdemeanor summons, arrest, or no disposition.

The chart below shows the percentage of each of the 6 outcomes.


37.7% of black non-Hispanic drivers were given a ticket in 2018, which is the lowest rate of this disposition among all races. Over half of all stopped Asian and American Indian / Alaska Native drivers were given a ticket (50.3% and 53.7%, respectively).

Verbal Warning

Black non-Hispanic drivers were the only group of drivers who were more likely to receive a verbal warning (41.8%) than a ticket (37.7%). For all other drivers, verbal warning accounted for between 33% and 38% of stop dispositions.

Written Warning

White non-Hispanic drivers had the highest share of written warnings (16.5%) among all dispositions. Black non-Hispanic and Hispanic drivers of all races had the lowest share of written warnings (8.9% and 8.7%, respectively).

Misdemeanor Summons

At the same time, black non-Hispanic and Hispanic drivers had the highest proportion of misdemeanor summons (8.9% and 9.6%), while only 3.6% of white non-Hispanic drivers were issued the summons. Just 2% of Asian and American Indian / Alaska Native non-Hispanic drivers were issued summons.

No Disposition

Drivers of all races and Hispanic ethnicity had the same small (1.4%) likelihood of having no disposition as the result of a traffic stop. In other words, 1 in 71 drivers stopped by police was not charged with anything, and this holds true for each race and Hispanic ethnicity.


While only 0.8% of all traffic stops ended up with the driver being arrested, the number varied from 0.2% for Asian non-Hispanic drivers to 1.3% for black non-Hispanic and 1.4% for Hispanic (all races) drivers.

Car searches

16,396 cars were searched in 2018 (6.5% fewer than in 2017). As a result of the search, contraband was found in 6461 cases (0.7% increase compared to 2017).

Less than 1% of Asian non-Hispanic drivers, and about 2% of white non-Hispanic drivers stopped by police have their car searched, compared to 5.5% of Hispanic drivers and 6.1% of black non-Hispanic drivers. In other words, a black driver was 3 times more likely to have their car searched than a white driver, and 6 times more likely than an Asian driver.

48% of car searches resulted in contraband found for American Indian / Alaska Native drivers, although the total number of searches is very small (54). 44% of white non-Hispanic drivers had contraband found when searched, compared to 37% for black non-Hispanic drivers and 35% of Hispanic drivers.

The column chart below shows the number of searches performed (gray) and the number of searches resulting in contraband found (in blue, shown as %) for 5 racial groups.