Lawmakers Want To Put Brakes On Teen Driver Decals

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by Jerry DeMarco
originally published at the CliffviewPilot.com

A group of state legislators, including Deputy Assembly Majority Leader Joan Voss, are hoping to convince Gov. Christie to freeze a law — due to take effect at midnight tonight — that requires special license-plate decals for all drivers under 21 who have probationary licenses.

Republican Assemblyman Robert Schroeder got a co-sponsorship offer from the highly influential Voss, a Democrat from Fort Lee, as well as support from several of their colleagues in Trenton for an amendment Schroeder intends to file next week to eliminate the legal profiling.

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They’re hoping the display of bi-partisan support convinces the governor to delay enactment of “Kyleigh’s Law” for 60 days, until the full Legislature can vote to eliminate the red reflective details, which must be in place tomorrow.

Violators will be fined $100.

“While I do believe that Kyleigh’s Law was well-intentioned, I also believe the new decal requirement will actually put our young drivers at greater risk,” said Schroeder, a freshman legislator from Washington Township who wasn’t in the Assembly when the law was adopted.

“The decals were meant to help law enforcement identify drivers who are violating the terms of their Graduated Driver License (GDL), to avoid a tragedy like the one that happened to Kyleigh D’Alessio,” a 16-year-old passenger who was killed in a car crash, along with the teenaged driver, Dec. 20.

“Unfortunately, these decals will also help criminals who prey on young people, providing them with a new tool in their quest to find victims, since these decals are only being required of drivers under the age of 21.”

Schroeder — the father of two teenagers himself — said he is filing separate legislation to honor Kyleigh’s memory by designating the 3rd week in December in New Jersey “Teen Driver Safety Awareness Week in honor of Kyleigh D’Alessio.”

“I think we should honor her life in a positive way,” he said.

Young motorists and their parents have been reminded all week that the reflective red decals must be in place tomorrow. These must be bought at MVC offices for $4 each.

In turn, the backlash has grown: Nearly 30,000 members have joined a Facebook group opposed to the decals.

“So many people are complaining about the teen decals [to their legislators],” Schroeder said. “We’ve gotten dozens of letters, emails and phone calls from all over the state of New Jersey, and they are unanimous in their support of my amendment to rescind the decals.”

Officially in their corner:

Asm. Robert Schroeder (R-District 39)
Asw. Charlotte Vandervalk (R-District 39)
Asm. Michael Patrick Carroll (R-District 25)
Asw. Joan Voss (Deputy Majority Leader — D-District 38)
Asm. Domenick DiCicco Jr. (R-District 4)

Co-Sponsors:
Asw. Nancy Munoz (R-District 21)
Asm. Scott Rumana (R-District 40)
Asm. Jon Bramnick (R-District 21)

New Jersey is the first state to make the decals mandatory, although some counties have required them. It gives police probable cause to stop a vehicle they suspect is in violation of a new state curfew and occupancy rules that apply to teen drivers.

The decal idea was proposed in a New Jersey Teen Driver Study Commission report, issued in March 2008.

Although identifiers aren’t a new concept, Schroeder said, other countries base theirs on experience level, not age.

“For example, all novice drivers in Canada must display an ‘N‘ sign in the rear of the vehicle. Other countries use a ‘P’ license plate for ‘probationary’ or ‘L’ for ‘learning.’ None of these restrictions are related to the age of the driver.

“The identifiers simply indicate that the person behind the wheel is a new driver.”


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