NJ May Take a Hard Look at Young Driver Decal Law

Some believe the law might do more harm than good

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

     New Jersey's new law requiring young drivers to display decals on their license plates will probably be getting a second look after complaints that it could lead to more trouble than good.

    The Legislature on Monday ordered a six-month review of the law and sent the bill to the governor. If it's approved, a review by the attorney general will determine whether the law, known as Kyleigh's Law, needs to be changed or repealed.

    New Jersey is the first state to require the decals, which identify young motorists during their yearlong probationary license period. Opponents claim the law is well intended but won't improve safety, will subject motorists to nuisance traffic stops, and might entice criminals to target young drivers.

    "We want teenagers to be safe on the road and behind the wheel," said Assemblywoman Elease Evans, D-Paterson. "At the same time, the public outcry over some of the provisions indicates we should go back and take another look to make sure that in our desire to make our teen drivers safer we did not accidentally impinge upon their freedoms."

    The law was named for Kyleigh D'Alessio, a 16-year-old central New Jersey high school student who was killed in 2006 while riding in a vehicle driven by another teen. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine signed the law last year.

    "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," said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood.

    Drivers ages 16 to 20 must have a $4 pair of detachable fluorescent red decals on their front and rear license plates during a yearlong provisional license period. Failure to do so could result in a $100 fine.

    The decals are intended to help police enforce licensing restrictions on first-time drivers, which limit the number of passengers they can carry and the hours they can drive. They gradually earn full driving privileges under the state's graduated driver license program.

    The law went into effect May 1. Gov. Chris Christie has said his 16-year-old son has also complained about the requirement. The Republican governor said he will enforce it but is open to changing it if it seems ineffective.