Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Court Rules Teen Drivers Must Keep Red Decals

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Court Rules Teen Drivers Must Keep Red Decals

Article excerpt

Young drivers throughout the state will have to keep sticking red decals on their license plates after a ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a 2009 law designed to aid police when enforcing laws for new drivers.

The ruling, however, failed to silence critics who argue the stickers make young drivers a target for predators.

The court, in a brief unsigned opinion released Monday, didn't wade into the debate over the wisdom of the law, which is meant to help police better enforce restrictions placed on drivers under the age of 21 with a learner's permit or a graduated driver's license.

Instead, the court said the law -- named for Kyleigh D'Alessio, a Long Valley teen killed in an early-morning crash -- doesn't violate state and federal laws that protect drivers' privacy.

The court, relying heavily on an appellate panel's earlier ruling, unanimously found that drivers' general age groups aren't "personal information" protected by state law and the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act because "a driver's age group can generally be determined by his or her physical appearance, which is routinely exposed to public view."

The high court also said that the measure passed state and federal constitutional muster.

Cathleen Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Florham Park-based AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, hopes the ruling ends debate on the law, which was signed by Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009 and received near- unanimous support in the Legislature.

"Hopefully, this will really put it to rest," she said, noting that a review by the Attorney General's Office found only one incident where a sticker was connected to an incident of harassment.

The measure was modeled on similar programs in Australia and England, which generally provide for larger decals that are meant to notify other drivers, Lewis said.

And Joseph Bell Jr., the attorney who represents Kyleigh D'Alessio's mother, Donna Weeks, said he was "absolutely delighted" and that the ruling was a step toward ensuring better enforcement of the state's driving laws.

Though the decal requirements have gotten the most attention, Kyleigh's Law also imposes a variety of additional driving restrictions on new drivers. It forbids drivers under the age of 21 with a learner's permit or graduated driver's license from talking on cellphones while driving -- even those that are hands-free. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.