TOLEDO, Ohio — 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed this week by a Brooklyn Center police officer in Minnesota, and his mother says it all started when he was pulled over for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.
Ohio, like Minnesota, is one of a number of states with laws on the books that technically allow police to pull over a vehicle for having objects dangling from the mirror. The basis for these laws stems from the idea that the objects can obstruct a driver's view and are usually part of distracted driving legislation.
Civil rights advocates have protested such laws, saying they make it easier for police to stop Black drivers.
Wright was pulled over Sunday and police said they stopped him for expired registration tags. His mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her just before he was shot and told her he was pulled over for having air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.
In Ohio, a new distracted driving law went into effect in 2018. The legislation made it a secondary offense that carries a $100 fine.
The law was mostly meant to crack down on actions like texting while driving. But having objects hanging from your rearview mirror is also listed among the prohibited actions.
Michigan has similar laws on the books.
State law generally prohibits a driver from hanging ornaments or other objects from the mirror, with exceptions for things like disabled parking placards. The rationale behind it is to prevent the driver's view from being obstructed.
Other states with similar laws include California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas and Illinois. It's unclear how many states there are as the National Conference of State Legislators does not track such legislation.
Minnesota's law states a person shall not drive with "any objects suspended between the driver and the windshield."