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Philadelphia the 1st major city to outlaw low-level traffic stops

Philadelphia the 1st major city to outlaw low-level traffic stops
Photo credit: / ArtOlympic

The mayor of Philadelphia is expected to sign a bill that will outlaw police officers making traffic stops for trivial reasons.

Philly Mayor Jim Kenney will endorse the Equality Driving Bill that will prevent local law enforcement from stopping motorists for “secondary violations” that overwhelming impact African American, according to various studies.

Philadelphia will be the first major American city to adopt such a measure. However, there are other areas that have instituted laws that curb traffic stops for low-level violations, including the state of Virginia and Ramsey County in Minnesota.

Examples of secondary infractions, according to WTXF-TV, are such things as: registration plate not being clearly displayed or visible, single brake light, headlight, or running light not coming on, driving a vehicle without an official inspection certificate, unlawful operation without evidence of emission inspection and having a vehicle not registered within 60 days of an observed infraction or bumper issues. 

The issue came to the forefront following a study that took place from October 2018 through September 2019. Of the 310,000 traffic stops, 72 percent of the stops were on Black drivers.

A similar analysis was conducted in 2021 and shows that 67 percent of the traffic stops were on Blacks compared to only 12 percent of their White counterparts. According to, the city is 43 percent Black and 40 percent White.

The same study shows that 97 percent of traffic stops are considered “secondary violations,” which means that police-motorist interactions should be reduced by 300,000 episodes per year with the passage of this initiative.

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