Philly’s Driving Equality Law will go into effect as of February 24, 2022. It happens after 120 days of police training and implementation.
The approved legislation reclassifies seven minor motor vehicle code violations as secondary offenses. Those won’t generate a traffic stop.
Such violations include expired emission and inspection stickers, late registration, minor bumper damage, having a blown tail light, relocation of a license plate, items hanging from the rearview mirror, and improper location of window permits.
Specially suited for African-American drivers
Driving Equality Law is based on recent minor traffic violations data. According to the numbers, Philly police stop a disproportionate number of African-American drivers compared to white and Latino drivers.
“Many traffic stops are traumatic and, since they are oftentimes a person of color’s first interaction with law enforcement, start off a tense relationship. By removing the stops that promote discrimination rather than public safety, we can rebuild police-community trust”, Councilman Isaiah Thomas said.
Back in October of 2021, City Council passed the bill with an overwhelming majority. It was crafted through a task force that included representatives from Thomas’ office, the Philadelphia Defenders Association, the Philadelphia Police Department, and Mayor James Kenney’s legal and policy teams.
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Later, Kenney consolidated the law with an executive order in November. The City Council bills and the order issued by the mayor gave Philadelphia police three months for training and education. After that, the Driving Equality Law god enabled to begin on February 24, 2022.
Also, a complementary bill requires the Philadelphia Police Department to record information about every vehicle stop in an electronic database. They will post and share data with City Council and the Citizens Police Oversight Commission.
The Law will be monitored
In addition, Councilman Thomas is in charge of a group that’ll monitor implementation and data generated by Philly’s Driving Equality Law. Thomas thanks the Defenders Association of Philadelphia for analyzing police data and giving constant advise on this kind of bills.
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“I’m proud of the contributions of the Defender Association to the Driving Equality law, particularly the work of our Police Accountability Unit, who provided so much of the legal framework for this groundbreaking legislation”, said Keisha Hudson, Chief Defender of the Defenders Association of Philadelphia.
“This law reflects the experiences of our attorneys, clients and communities. Driving Equality will go a long way toward improving relationships between the police and communities of color, which will have a tremendous impact on public safety in Philadelphia.