Kyleigh’s Law Controversy Continues
Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill requiring a six-month review of Kyleigh’s Law by the state attorney general. The governor said the bill was unnecessary because his administration is already studying the effects of New Jersey’s first-in-the-nation program requiring young drivers be identified by license decals.
Kyleigh’s law took effect last May and requires drivers under 21 with probationary licenses to display detachable red decals on their license plates. The purpose of the decals is to make it easier for police to identify violators of the law’s other provisions. These include restricting novice drivers to a nighttime curfew of 11:00 p.m., and limiting the number of passengers in vehicles with young drivers. New drivers are also still prohibited from using cell phones, including hands-free devices.
The law is named for Kyleigh D’Alessio, a 16-year-old Long Valley girl, who died while riding in a car driven by a provisional license holder. Kyleigh’s mother, Donna Weeks, was instrumental in getting the law passed and remains convinced that it will prevent car accidents.
Concerns about Kyleigh’s Law
Critics of the decal provision equate it to a “scarlet letter” identifying vulnerable teens to stalkers, rapists and other predators. Additionally, there are concerns about new drivers being followed and harassed by aggressive drivers. Opponents also say the law unfairly encourages police to target teens.
The large amount of public opposition, particularly from concerned parents, led several lawmakers to propose immediately repealing the law. As it stands now, those arguing for an end to the law will have to wait awhile for any determination.
The attorney general will carry out a survey and report to the governor in six months about any alleged instances where the decals have been used in the commission of crimes or targeting of individuals. This will help determine whether the decals have negatively impacted the safety of teens the law was designed to protect. Donna Weeks stated she is looking forward to the attorney general’s report because she is certain the law is saving lives.