Changing a brake light is not typically difficult or expensive. However, being stopped by a police officer for having a brake light out can be both. A ticket can cost a significant amount of a working person’s earnings. If that person has a warrant out for their arrest due to unpaid tickets or something like that, they might be detained and arrested. This means more fines. It can also be quite disruptive to a person’s life — they might miss work or be unable to care for their children. It can also be extremely traumatic. In fact, any traffic stop can pose an existential threat to the person being pulled over, especially for people of color and people without papers. In 2015, Walter Scott was stopped by a police officer for having a brake light out. He pulled into the parking lot of the auto parts store he’d been going to to replace the bulb, but he was tased and shot to death by the officer who pulled him over before he got the chance. In 2016, Philando Castile was pulled over for having a brake light out, and was shot almost immediately while informing the officer that he legally was carrying a firearm. His partner Diamond Reynolds bravely live streamed the encounter so that the world could see the aftermath of the unjust execution that had just occurred in front of her and her toddler daughter. Having a brake light out is not that dangerous. The most dangerous thing about having a brake light out is probably the threat of state violence.
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