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Albert Buzzetti & Associates, L.L.C.

New Jersey Considering Next-of-Kin Registry

The New Jersey legislature is considering creating a registry that would notify family members if a loved one is involved in an accident that leaves them incapacitated or seriously injured.

According to an Associated Press report, people with New Jersey driver's licenses or state identification cards would be able to voluntarily submit emergency contact information to the Motor Vehicle Commission. In the event of a serious accident, law enforcement personnel would access this database to notify the contact person.

The program would allow users to electronically submit two emergency contacts through the Motor Vehicle Commission's website. Advocates of the bill say that the notification process is vital after a serious accident and cite the minimal costs of the program.

The fiscal estimate released by the Assembly in July notes that a similar system was launched in Ohio for $60,000 and subsequent operation and maintenance costs have been virtually none.

The proposed law is named "Sarah's Law" after 19 year old Sara Dubinin, who was fatally injured in a car accident in 2007. After the accident, it took law enforcement over 90 minutes to identify her. By the time her parents were notified, she had slipped into a coma and died the following day.

The initial bill passed the Assembly unanimously in June. The Senate Transportation Committee approved the bill with minor amendments, 5-0, in September. The bill will now move to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The AP report notes that this committee has not yet scheduled a vote on the bill.

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