School zone charges may be prosecuted in District Court on a complaint originated at the clerk’s counter by the arresting officer or police prosecutor. They are dropped in over 95% of the cases in which they are charged. The charge volume in calendar 2013 largely reflects the new definition of school zones at 300 feet instead of 1,000 feet. The new zone definition, effective August 2012, was applied to pending cases (under Commonwealth v. Bradley). The 75 convictions in Fiscal 2013 should reflect the new normal — the pending legislation was publicly known and it is unlikely that many school zone cases settled in July before the new law.
The extraordinarily high statewide dismissal rate for the school zone charge argues for its final elimination — it has very limited and therefore potentially arbitrary effect.