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    Decals for teen drivers?

    Date: 04.16.09 | by Judge Tom.

    That’s right.  This week New Jersey became the first state to require new drivers under 21 to display a decal on their front and back license plates indicating they are new drivers.

    The law goes into effect in the spring of 2010.  It applies to all those without full-privilege licenses. A violation carries a $100 fine.  It is considered a secondary offense meaning the police will not be pulling teens over for no reason.  Law enforcement will be checking for curfew violations and passenger restrictions on new drivers.

    Photo by Contra Costa Times

    Other changes in New Jersey’s teen driving laws include: a curfew between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.; only one passenger unless a parent or guardian is in the car; and no wireless device, hands-free or not is permited for kids with a probationary license.

    The new law is called “Kyleigh’s Law” in honor of a 16-year-old passenger, Kyleigh D’Alessio, who died in a car accident in 2006.  The driver was a teenager with a probationary license.  Update:  The law went into effect on May 1, 2010.  Opponents maintain that the law is well intentioned but won’t improve safety, will subject motorists to nuisance traffic stops, and might entice criminals to target young drivers. In October, 2012, a study conducted by Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital found that the crash rate for teen drivers decreased 9% after Kyleigh’s Law went into effect.

    In February, 2012, the Governors Highway Safety Association examined the deaths of 16 and 17 year-olds during the first half of 2011. They found an 11% increase in highway deaths over the same period a year earlier. Twenty-three states saw increases while 19 had decreases in the number of teen deaths. The rise is attributed to more teen drivers on the road with the improving economy and a lessening of the impact of graduated driving privileges.


    Find out more about teens and traffic laws.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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