FREE CONSULTATIONS

Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    Driving Equality bill passed in Philadelphia, limiting traffic stops for blacks and latinos (Nov. 2021)

    Historically, Philadelphia residents of color are pulled over for minor traffic violations more often than white residents. In Philadelphia, police have used traffic stops as a pretext when they suspect illegal activity, even if there’s no basis for suspecting such activity. Blacks and Latinos who are pulled over in Philadelphia are often treated as criminals and ultimately have their cars searched for contraband. Drug possession and gun charges are some of the most common criminal charges brought after car searches.

    In early 2021, a leaked internal memo by a Philadelphia police captain showed the extent of the problem. In the memo, the captain pushed for more traffic stops and noted that the vehicle code gives officers probable cause for a stop. As a result of the leaked memo, Philadelphia’s City Council drafted and passed the Driving Equality Bill by a vote of 14-2. It was signed by the Mayor Kenney on November 3, 2021 and goes into effect in 120 days (March 3, 2022). See below for the full text of the Driving Equality Bill.

    Visit our Constitutional Law Library for articles on criminal law and related constitutional law violations.

    Below is a list of traffic violations that will be categorized as secondary violations after the law goes into effect. This means that you cannot be pulled over for them. Instead, you’ll receive a citation in the mail.

    It’s important to note that the new law still allows police to stop vehicles for primary violations, like speeding or running a red light. If the officer then sees a secondary violation, a citation may be issued for the secondary violation.

    • Expired registration (*must not expired for more than 60 days)
    • Incorrectly located temporary registration (*must otherwise clearly displayed)
    • Incorrectly fastened license place (*must otherwise clearly displayed)
    • Single broken brake light, head light
    • Items hanging from the rearview mirror or on the dashboard
    • Driving without a rear or front bumper
    • Expired inspections/emission inspections

    Driving Equality Bill

    (Bill No. 210636-A) AN ORDINANCE

    Amending Title 12 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Traffic Code,” to clarify the appropriate methods and circumstances of enforcement of traffic violations in order to provide for the fair and transparent administration of the traffic violations, prevent racial disparities, and protect public safety, and making certain technical changes, all under certain terms and conditions.

    THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA HEREBY ORDAINS:

    SECTION 1. Title 12 of The Philadelphia Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

    TITLE 12. TRAFFIC CODE

    CHAPTER 12-1700. ACHIEVING DRIVING EQUALITY

    § 12-1701. Legislative Intent

    (1) It is the purpose of this legislation to further the just, equitable, and fair enforcement of the law for all people, to provide for the fair and transparent administration of the code with respect to all, to prevent racial disparities, and to protect public safety in a manner consistent with these values.

    § 12-1702. Definitions

    In this Chapter the following definitions apply:

    (1) Primary Violation. A violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. Section 101, et. seq., observed within the city of Philadelphia, that does not constitute a secondary violation.

    (2) Secondary Violation. Violations of the following provisions of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, and such other violations as are identified by the Police Department by regulation:

    (a) Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 1301. Registration of Vehicles, when the vehicle had been previously registered within the Commonwealth within sixty days of the observed infraction.

    (b) Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 1310.1 (c). Temporary Registration Permits, where the violation is related to the location of the permit but the permit is otherwise clearly displayed in the rear window.

    (c) Title 75 Pa C.S. § 1332 (a). Display of Registration Plate, where the violation pertains to a plate not securely fastened to the vehicle but such plate is otherwise clearly displayed.

    (d) Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 4302. Periods For Requiring Lighted Lamps, where the violation for lighting equipment not illuminating is limited to a single brake light, head light, or running light; a single bulb in a larger light of the same; or any other single light or bulb of a vehicle light required by 75 Pa. C.S. § 4302.

    (e) Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 4524 (c). Other Obstruction.

    (f) Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 4536. Bumpers.

    (g) Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 4703. Operation of Vehicle Without Official Certificate of Inspection.

    (h) Title 75 Pa. C.S. §4706 (c)(5). Unlawful Operation Without Evidence of Emission Inspection

    § 12-1703. Compliance and Enforcement of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code

    (1) Compliance with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. So long as such conduct is prohibited by the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, motorists who own or operate vehicles within the city limits shall operate, maintain, title, register, and license vehicles in accordance with the provisions of the Vehicle Code.

    (2) Enforcement of Primary Violations. A police officer or law enforcement officer may initiate a motor vehicle stop and, at their discretion, cite a driver for a violation of a primary violation observed within the City of Philadelphia without observing any other Pennsylvania Vehicle Code violation.

    (3) Enforcement of Secondary Violations. To the full extent of Council’s legislative authority, a police officer or other law enforcement officer may initiate a motor vehicle stop for a secondary violation observed within the City of Philadelphia only where there is a simultaneously-observed primary violation for which an officer, at their discretion, could issue a citation.

    § 12-1704. Construction.

    (1) This Chapter shall not be construed to supersede any state or federal law.

    § 12-1705. Severability.

    (1) If any one or more section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, word, provision or application of this Ordinance shall for any person or circumstance be held to be illegal, invalid, unenforceable, or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of any other section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, word, provision or application of this Ordinance which is operable without the offending section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, word, provision or application shall remain effective notwithstanding such illegal, invalid, unenforceable, or unconstitutional section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, word, provision or application, and every section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, word, provision or application of this Ordinance are declared severable.

    SECTION 2. This Ordinance shall be effective one-hundred and twenty (120) days after it becomes law.

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"
    (2015-2022)

    MURDER, Att. Murder CHARGES – Negotiated Significantly Lower prison sentence (Feb. 2022, PHILA)

    Mr. Anderson faced murder and attempted murder charges after an incident in Northeast Philadelphia involving the shooting death of Anderson’s sister’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s roommate who was shot 5 times and survived. The decedent had previously beaten the...

    Att. MURDER CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (April 2022, PHILA)

    The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Shelton shot and seriously injured a male in a bar in North Philadelphia called Circles. There was video of the shooting which happened outside the bar. However, Mr. Nenner presented witnesses who testified that the person in the bar...

    MURDER, Robbery CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    Mr. Nenner's client was charged with multiple crimes (murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault, robbery, etc.) after a shooting death occurred at a gambling house in North Philadelphia. At trial, Mr. Nenner successfully presented a self-defense argument and convinced...

    MURDER CHARGE – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    Mr. Nenner’s client was charged with murder and gun charges in Philadelphia. The client was accused of shooting and killing another male on Arch Street near the 5600 block of Ithan Street in Philadelphia. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating...

    Drug Possession Case – Motion to Suppress Granted

    Mr. Nenner presented evidence that to show that the traffic stop was a pretextual stop. The officer had no reason to pull the car over. The judge agreed and suppressed the evidence. As a result, the prosecution withdrew the charges.

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – Possession of a Controlled Substance

    In most criminal drug cases in Philadelphia, there are two common charges or offenses: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. In addition to these drug charges, there are other drug related charges, such...

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – What is “Possession”

    Page last reviewed and updated: October 20, 2019 One of the most common types of criminal state (PA) cases in Philadelphia is possession of drugs. Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) often...

    Pennsylvania Second Degree Murder (AKA: Felony Murder) Law

    Philadelphia criminal lawyer David S. Nenner discusses the current status of second degree murder law in Pennsylvania. This is also known as the felony murder rule. Get info about PA court decisions and the agency theory. Not every case of death during the commission of a felony will result in a second degree murder conviction in PA.

    Philadelphia Murder Cases – Police Investigation Tactics

    Questioning Police Officer Tactics in Philadelphia Murder Cases Within the last 10 years, there have been several murder Philadelphia criminal cases in which the accused individuals were acquitted of the crimes. In these cases, the individuals spent months, if not...

    Murder Charges in Pennsylvania – Murder Law in Pennsylvania

    An explanation of Pennsylvania murder laws including Section 2502. What is murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and murder in the third degree. Get a summary of the definitions under Pennsylvania criminal law.