Faculty Insight: Sarah A. Seo ’07 on Cops, Cars, and Discretion vs. Discrimination

Professor Sarah A. Seo ’07 explains how the development of police discretionary power in traffic stops gave rise to “driving while Black.”

The transformation of the United States into an automobile society in the early 20th century required new laws and new powers for police. Legal historian and Professor of Law Sarah A. Seo, author of Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom, explains how the need for traffic law enforcement gave police discretionary power that came to be used for discriminatory purposes.