Philly Court Upholds Traffic Justice Reform Measure to Reduce ‘Negative Interactions’ between Black Drivers, Police

PC: ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer at The Philadelphia Inquirer

By Elina Sadeghian

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The First Common Pleas Court here this week dismissed a lawsuit by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 that attempted to kill a local measure that sought to reduce the “likelihood of negative interactions between police officers and Black drivers,” according to the bill’s author.

Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, the sponsor of “Driving Equality,” argued traffic stops can lead to unjust use of force from police, and said he wanted to make more efficient use of police officers’ time, according to a WHYY news report.

The program forbids police from stopping drivers for low-level offenses, including late registration (if under 60 days late), relocation of temporary registration (must be visible), hanging license plate (must be fastened), missing a single headlight or taillight, items hanging from a rearview mirror, minor bumper damage, driving with an expired or missing inspection or registration sticker.

The law took effect in March of 2022, and, according to the city council of Philadelphia, the data collected during the first year of implementation reinforced that the Driving Equality law was not making the city less safe, as the FOP claimed.

In fact, Thomas said the law led to Philadelphia police officers prioritizing traffic stops associated with public safety, such as drivers ignoring red lights or stop signs, resulting in a higher success rate of illegal contraband recovery.

“I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of Driving Equality…for working to create this collaboration, national model for police reform and community progress,” the local lawmaker added.

The Common Pleas Court found that the Driving Equality law was within the city’s discretion over local law enforcement and that the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code did not preempt it, as the police group claimed.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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