Saturday, April 13, 2002

philadelphia gets tough on drivers
Just how many cars are being driven in Philadelphia illegally? Six years ago, the estimate was at about 500,000. The city decided to take some action back then, and passed a law allowing police officers to seize any car driven by someone without a driver's license, insurance or registration.

The vehicle seizure law is known as "live stop," and it hasn't started yet, except for a few pilot projects. While it's been on the books, it's barely been enforced. Plans are in the works to change that. As of July 1st, the city will begin enforcing the law citywide.
"We estimate that at the beginning, we are going to take 1,000 cars a day," said Traffic Court Administrative Judge Fortunato N. Perri Sr. "I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this ... It kills me that we had this law on the books for six years and that we didn't enforce it."
The additional work and resources that implementing this law will take is mind boggling. Longer police stops for lack of identification or registration or insurance. A lot of towing. Lots needed to store the vehicles. Appeals of seizures, and due process hearings. Sales of unclaimed vehicles.

The results of the pilot programs look promising, and the city has spent money on new tow trucks, and lots for cars. If it makes driving in Philadelphia safer, I'm all for it. I might drive into the city more often. But I'll definitely remember to bring my license, insurance and registration with me when I do.

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