Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is expected to sign a bill that bans police from pulling over drivers for minor infractions, making Philly the first big city to pass what has been called “driving while Black” legislation, CNN reports.
The measure, dubbed the Driving Equality Bill, distinguishes “primary violations” from “secondary violations.”
Once the bill becomes a law, officers are permitted to conduct traffic stops for primary violations for public safety, according to local Philadelphia station WTXF.
But cops will no longer enforce minor infractions, such as broken brake lights or vehicle registration issues. Those who commit secondary violations will receive a warning or citation by mail.
The Driving Equity Bill is part of a legislative package that mandates the creation of a public database of traffic stops. Going forward, the police department must compile information that identifies officers who conduct traffic stops, the drivers stopped and the reason for stops.
"I am humbled by every person who told my office of the humiliation and trauma experienced in some of these traffic stops," said Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, who spearheaded the legislation.
"To many people who look like me, a traffic stop is a rite of passage -- we pick out cars, we determine routes, we plan our social interactions around the fact that it is likely that we will be pulled over by police,” he continued."
According to the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Black drivers in Philadelphia account for 72 percent of traffic stops but only 48 percent of the city’s population, between October 2018 and September 2019. So far this year, Black drivers accounted for 67 percent of stops, compared to 12 percent of white drivers.
Officers often use minor traffic violations to racially profile Black drivers, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
"We're hopeful that passage of the Driving Equality Bill is just the beginning of informed and meaningful conversations about positive changes to our justice system that will benefit all Philadelphians," stated Alan Tauber, the acting chief defender for the Defender Association for Philadelphia, according to CNN.
In March, Virginia became the first state to enact a similar measure that bans police from stopping drivers for minor infractions, CNN reported. Data shows that the police disproportionately stop Black drivers across the state.
In Ramsey County, Minn., authorities no longer prosecute drivers who are unfairly stopped for minor infractions, five years after a former St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Philando Castile during a stop for a broken tail light. He was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in 2016.