Thursday, March 25, 2010

Seeing Red on New Jersey License Plates

A new New Jersey law taking effect May 1 will mandate the purchase and placement of a red sticker on license plates of certain vehicles and restricts when drivers of such vehicles can drive.
State officials announced today how they will implement a new law requiring New Jersey drivers under 21 years old with provisional licenses to place red reflective decals on their license plates to identify themselves as new drivers.

The law, named after Morris County teenager Kyleigh D'Alessio, who died in a car accident when 16 years old, is the first of its kind in the country and becomes effective on May 1, officials said.

The decals, which can be purchased for $4 a pair at motor vehicle agencies starting April 12, are supposed to be affixed to the upper left corner of the front and rear license plates. They can also be removed when an older driver uses the car, or placed on a different car used by the young driver.
The requirement is for drivers with Graduated Driver's Licenses - new drivers and those who have not yet been given full driving privileges. It means that drivers with the red stickers can be pulled over by police any time between 11pm and 5am. It also means that such drivers can only have one passenger in the car from inside or outside your household unless it's a parent or guardians, prohibits electronic devices, requires seat belts to be worn at all times, and that the failure to have a red sticker on the license plates will be subject to a $100 fine.

Since many young drivers are actually borrowing their parents' vehicles, this means that such vehicles with the tags will likely be stopped unnecessarily within that window of time (11pm-5am) because the tags are present on the car, regardless of who is actually driving the car. How many parents are going to take the stickers off when they are driving and place them on the licenses when their kids are driving? Not too many. That means that people who are driving legally and within the law are going to get stopped because the tags highlight to police that those driving within the vehicle may be novice drivers.

It seems to be a boon for police and doesn't actually reduce the chances that teens will drive recklessly engage in illegal activities behind the wheel. It further ads to the cost of driving in New Jersey for those parents with kids of driving age.

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