IT MAY NOT BE in official law-enforcement manuals, but the charge of "driving while black or brown" continues to be levied against black and Latino motorists pulled over in traffic stops.

Racial profiling is such an issue that civil- rights groups offer black and Latino men wallet-sized cards to carry with tips on what to do and how to act if police stop them.

Judging by a recent report from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, they better keep those cards handy.

The report uses data from a 2005 Police-Public Contact Survey to reveal that although cops pulled over black, Latino and white drivers at similar rates, blacks and Latinos were more likely to be searched during traffic stops than whites.

Blacks were four times as likely to be threatened or to experience use of force by police. And were twice as likely to be arrested.

The Justice Department in a "cover your butt" move notes that the "apparent disparities" don't prove police "treat people differently along demographic lines." They say there may be other reasons and factors to explain the differences.

Oh. You mean, like skin color? *