Kyleigh’s Law Upheld, NJ Legislators Renew Push To Rescind [POLL/AUDIO]
The controversial red decals for teen drivers are here to stay. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that requiring the stickers on a young driver's license plate doesn't violate federal privacy laws.
"A driver's age group constitutes neither `highly restricted personal information' nor `personal information"' within the meaning of current federal law, the justices wrote. The decals don't give rise to unreasonable search and seizure because they are plainly visible and don't require police officers to stop and search a vehicle, they wrote.
"This is about saving lives. Car crashes are the number cause of teen death in New Jersey and if we can protect a young driver out on the road then the decals are worth it" said Pam Fischer, head of the NJ Teen Safe Driver Coalition.
"I am also a mother of a teen driver and we all have the stickers on our license plates because I believe its a good idea. The parents I've spoken to do not have a problem with it."
But opponents fear unlawful discrimination.
"The ruling does not change the fact that Kyleigh's law singles out people and does not change the fact that it is counterproductive" said Jeff Naddl, spokesman for the National Youth Rights Association.
"Systems like Kyleigh's Law create more traffic fatalities once they get their licenses because they are not getting the defensive driving experience they need" added Naddel.
Fischer said she hasn't seen either.
"People need to understand that this is not about creating risk, its about preventing risk. The state Attorney General's office had reached out to all police agencies across the state and asked them to report in on any incidents of harassment or targeting and that has not been the case."
Some state legislators have renewed their push for a bill to overturn the red decal requirement.
Citing concerns that young people are made vulnerable by the publicly visible identifiers, Senators Jennifer Beck and Kip Bateman have introduced legislation suspending the decal requirement until an alternative technology can be developed that is only detectable by law enforcement.
"A law being upheld as permissible under the state Constitution should not be construed to mean the Court deems the law a good idea," said Beck (R- Monmouth). "With the benefit of hindsight and the input of parents and teen drivers responsible for complying with the law, it has become clear to me that this well intentioned law has unintended consequences."
"The Supreme Court ruling allows a dangerous law to stand," said Bateman (R-Somerset). "Many parents and guardians agree that we must not make our teenagers so obviously vulnerable to predators. The only safe and sensible way to implement Kyleigh's Law is via a GDL identification method that is only visible or recognizable by law enforcement officers. Until then, we must trust in our driver's education requirements, license regulations and in New Jersey's parents, guardians and teenagers to follow these laws."
"I think parents are rightfully concerned and just because its constitutional doesn't mean its a good idea, so we will continue to push the majority on this and hopefully we will be successful in the coming months if not years" said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr.
New Jersey became the first state to enact a vehicle decal requirement for young drivers by passing Kyleigh's Law, which became effective on May 1, 2010. It is named for 16-year-old Kyleigh D'Alessio, who was killed in a 2006 crash while riding in a car driven by another teen.