My fellow libertarians and I are often criticized for our opposition to policies like primary seat belt laws, helmet laws, aggressive enforcement of jaywalking laws, or nuisance laws, such as carrying an open container in public. The criticism is usually that these are petty concerns, and people who spend time opposing them are out of touch with the real world. But these sorts of laws give police more excuses to make pretext stops when profiling for drug couriers. Once they have you, they can take your cash, car, jewelry or other possessions based only on the flimsiest evidence that it might be connected to drugs. They’re opportunities for harassment. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that even a crime as petty as a seat belt violation is justification for an arrest — and all of the life disruptions that come with a trip to jail. (Don’t forget that no matter what the offense, a trip to jail can also include a strip search.) Heavy enforcement of these sorts of crimes can breed distrust between police and the communities they serve, and creates more interactions that carry the risk of escalation.

But even assuming that all of these stops, fines, and citations are always legitimate, they’re always going to have a disproportionate effect on the poor, because the poor are the people who can least afford to pay them.