If Gov. Chris Christie goes along with it, state authorities will have six months to evaluate an unpopular law that requires young drivers to have red decals on their license plates — a far cry from the repeal sought by several Bergen-area lawmakers and tens of thousands of New Jerseyans.
“Kyleigh’s Law,“ named after car-crash victim Kyleigh D’Alessio, 16, requires the decals for graduated-license drivers who can only have a certain number of passengers in their vehicle and can’t be on the road past 11 p.m.
Even since several new lawmakers took office in Trenton earlier this year, a massive movement has swelled in New Jersey — spearheaded by Assemblyman Bob Schroeder of Bergen County. Thousands of teen drivers and their families have signed an online petition to get the law overturned.
The opponents say the decals make the young drivers targets for profiling police and prowling pedophiles.
A study without a repeal “will l do nothing to address the immediate fears and concerns people have for the safety of our children,” Schroeder, a Republican freshman legislator from Washington Township who has two teens of his own, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT earlier this year.
“A ‘wait and see’ approach only endangers young drivers and keeps them at risk,” he said. “These stickers are discriminatory and dangerous, and should be eliminated immediately
Schroeder got support not only from key leaders such as Deputy Assembly Majority Leader Joan Voss of Fort Lee; Several municipalities statewide adopted resolutions asking the Legislature to repeal the sticker law as soon as possible.
And tens of thousands of youngsters and their parents raised their collective voices on Facebook and elsewhere, demanding action.
Instead, they got an unspecified “study” today of the law’s effect. Who will carry out that study and how are open questions.
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“The changes made to New Jersey’s graduated driver’s license program were designed to make our roadways safer and our teenagers better drivers,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), one of the bill’s sponsors.
“Unfortunately, some of the changes may have had unintended consequences that could require further legislation, which is why we are asking the Attorney General to review the program.”
The reflective red decals must be bought at MVC offices for $4 each. Violatators faces fines of $100.
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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