Fifteen years ago I published my very first op-ed. Sniff. You never forget your first, even though it was kind of a forgettable op-ed. (I've published close to 30 op-eds since then... jeeze.)
Atwater was a Texas case, no less, in which a woman (Gail Atwater) was arrested for a seat belt violation. Now a seat belt violation wasn't even a jailable offense. But the Court said it was constitutionally OK to arrest someone, even for a non-arrestable offense. I still don't understand this logic. Now these arrests could be prohibited by law or policy (which the Court recommended) but constitutionally the Court said it's OK to arrest people for even the most minor of traffic violations.
Keep in mind this isn't really relevant to Bland's arrest. She was initially placed under arrest for some variation of failure to obey (or maybe not, maybe the officer decided to arrest on the discretion granted to police in Atwater?) and then charged with assaulting a public servant, a felony. Either way, it's worth pointing out that the legal standard for an arrest -- particularly traffic related, particularly coming out of Texas -- is really low.