On April 26, 2016, voters across Pennsylvania will be given the opportunity to vote to abolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court. First established in 1968, the Philadelphia Traffic Court has recently been plagued with controversy. Ticket fixing and underhanded deals to look the other way came to light in the past decade. In 2012, a report commissioned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court report found that Traffic Court Judges routinely fixed tickets by granting “third-party requests for preferential treatment.”
This report, and the backlash that ensued, prompted the legislature to abolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court and hand jurisdiction over to the newly created Traffic Division of the Philadelphia Municipal Court. The Traffic Division has now been operating for a number of years and, while there are difficulties, it appears that the corruption of the Philadelphia Traffic Court is behind us. I routinely sit as a court-appointed attorney in the new Traffic Division and I am aware of its endeavor to be an impartial court that upholds the same rule of law for all defendants – no matter who they know.
So, while the Traffic Court is still a part of the Pennsylvania Constitution, there are no plans to resurrect it. Therefore, the vote to abolish the Traffic Court will not change the current make-up of the Traffic Division here in Philadelphia. The Traffic Division of the Philadelphia Municipal Court will continue to hear traffic matters no matter the outcome of the April 26th vote.
If you or someone you know has been cited for a traffic offense in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact Attorney Michael F. Niznik for a free consultation.