‘Driving While Black’ Apps Give Tips for Police Stops

Steven DuBois, ABC News, December 11, 2014

A “Driving While Black” smartphone application is set for release this month, but its developers say motorists should be careful when they use it.

“Do not reach for your phone when you are talking to police,” stressed attorney Melvin Oden-Orr, who created the app with another Portland lawyer and a software developer.

Avoiding any move that could make officers think you’re reaching for a gun is just one of the tips “Driving While Black” offers. And despite its attention-grabbing name, the common-sense advice it offers applies to motorists of all races.

The app describes how people can assert their civil rights with officers, enables drivers to alert friends and family with a push of a button that they’ve been pulled over, and includes a recording function to document the interaction.

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The term “driving while black” reflects widespread frustration among African-Americans that they are more likely to get pulled over than white people, a reality confirmed in a Justice Department┬áreport last year that also found black and Hispanic drivers are more likely to be ticketed and searched than whites.

The key to surviving a traffic stop, Hyland and Oden-Orr say, is to remain calm, keep your hands on the wheel, be respectful and make no false moves.

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Their app, which The Oregonian newspaper reported about last week, doesn’t provide legal advice, but it will include a directory of lawyers for drivers who believe they were wrongfully stopped or searched.

“It’s about being safe during a traffic stop so that everyone goes home alive,” Oden-Orr said.

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