Philadelphia to Pass Driving Equality Bill

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Courtesy of Jason Murphey (Flickr CC0)

Philadelphia has made history by becoming the first United States major city to ban police officers from pulling people over for low-level traffic violations. The city council passed the Driving Equality Bill 14-2 on Oct. 14, 2021. All that is is needed now is for the Mayor of Philadelphia to sign the bill.

Studies show that Black drivers are targeted at disproportionately higher rates. The Driving Equality Bill separates “primary violations” from “secondary” ones. Primary violations are categorized as traffic stops that police officers make in the name of public safety. Minor infractions or ‘secondary’ violations are no longer to be enforced.

Courtesy of Beyond My Ken (Wikimedia CC0)

The Driving Equality Bill states that the following offenses are considered secondary violations:

  • Minor Obstructions.
  • Single headlight, running light, brake light, etc. are not illuminated.
  • Registration plate nor clearly visible, fastened or displayed.
  • Vehicle not registered within sixty days of the observed infraction.
  • Operating the vehicle without an official certificate of inspection (i.e. inspection sticker).
  • Bumper issues.
  • Unlawful operation without evidence of emission inspection.

After the council gave their final approval the Driving Equality Bill was sent to Mayor Jim Kenney’s desk to be signed. Once he signs the bill it will take 120 days for it to go into effect. His office has stated that Kinney intends to sign the bill, according to CNN.

The Driving Equality Bill is meant to address “tension between police and community members by removing negative interactions.” Recently, the author of the bill, Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, made amendments to allow the Philadelphia Police Department 120 days for training and education before the laws are implemented.

Philadelphia has corresponding bills which mandate a public, searchable database of motor vehicle stops that includes driver and officer information, a reason for the stop, as well demographic and geographic information

Thomas stated, “Data and lived experiences showed us the problem and data will be key to making sure this is done right.”  The Philadelphia councilman added that the information ” will tell us if we should end more traffic stops or amend how this is enforced. Data will also tell other cities that Philadelphia is leading on this civil rights issue and it can be replicated.”

Written by Sheena Robertson


Fox 29 News: Philadelphia City Council approves Driving Equality bill banning traffic stops for minor violations

CNN: Philadelphia to become first major US city to ban police from stopping drivers for low-level traffic violations; by Maya Brown and Emma Tucker

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Jason Murphey’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image by Beyond My Ken Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License

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