Seattle police cancel priority of expired registrations, no bike helmets
These violations have been identified among those that have no direct link with the safety of others.
SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department (SPD) is redefining an officer’s priorities for arresting someone, whether they’re driving a car or riding a bicycle.
In a letter to city Inspector General Lisa Judge, Acting SPD Leader Adrian Diaz said his department will no longer treat the following as primary reasons for conducting a traffic stop:
- Expired or missing vehicle registration or expired license tabs
- License plate display issues, including missing front license plates
- Certain technical infractions, including mirror ornaments and cracked windshields.
- Bicycle helmet violations, including failure to wear a helmet
>> Download KING 5’s Roku and Amazon Fire apps to watch live newscasts and on-demand videos
Two caveats to the list above are that officers will always apply visual obstructions like snow, fog, non-transparent tint, or a broken windshield, and vehicles must always have a rear license plate.
Diaz wrote in his letter that the above violations “do not directly relate to the safety of other people on the roads, paths or sidewalks.” Additionally, he expressed concern that these particular violations could primarily affect those who cannot afford to comply financially.
However, the above violations can still be applied if another primary violation occurs.
All of these changes were recommended by a group convened by the judge’s office, made up of members of the SPD community, the city’s transportation department, elected officials, public and private attorneys, the Office of Public Accountability city police and others.
However, one recommendation from the judge’s office that Diaz said he did not include in the changes is to cease primary enforcement for equipment violations, such as a broken headlight.
“I support this recommendation in principle, but only if there are viable options to address the equipment breach,” Diaz wrote. “For the safety of pedestrians and drivers, we cannot allow vehicles with safety equipment issues to remain in this status.”
He added that the SPD is working to find ways for these drivers to address these issues, even when they cannot afford it.
“I know that together, and with current and additional stakeholders, we will critically examine other breaches for consideration. I hope the same process will be in place to help ensure that good intentions do not produce no unintended consequences,” Diaz wrote.