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Decal for Young Drivers Upheld By New Jersey Supreme Court

Thumbnail image for emergencyvehicle.jpegIt’s a well-known phenomenon in America that teens like putting decals on their cars for such things as school pride and sports activities. So do their parents. But some are not so happy about decals required in New Jersey. I will explain.

Since my law school years and in my practice as a Gwinnett County car accident lawyer, I am very interested in how the law courts around the country are ruling on various issues of importance. Here in Georgia we have a graduated driver’s licensing program for our teens and young drivers. In fact, we have recently posted on the Georgia requirements, including Joshua’s Law.

Our program in Georgia is similar to the licensing scheme in New Jersey, but they go a step beyond and require a physical decal on the car for young drivers. In a very recent opinion, the New Jersey Supreme Court has upheld this decal requirement which some contend violates constitutional rights. Opponents of the decal plan to take the case to the United States Supreme Court.

The background on this issue has to do with a 2009 law, called Kyleigh’s Law. That law requires certain young drivers to place a small red decal on their license plate. The purpose of the law is to assist law enforcement to identify young drivers who are violating the conditions of permits and licenses. These impose such things as curfews as well as limitations on the number of passengers young drivers may have in their vehicles.

We have often stated that the number one cause of death for teens is driving. That is also the motivation behind the New Jersey law. The purpose was to save young lives since without the decal, it is very difficult for police to enforce the curfew and passenger limitation rules. We have previously posted that the Centers for Disease Control here in Atlanta, Georgia notes that “motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group.”

But those opposing the law believe that this law is a privacy violation and puts young drivers at greater risk for being stopped without warrant and will identify them for predators who might cause them harm. Not only do they intend to take the case to the United States Supreme Court, they also are very hopeful they will be able to secure legislation that their Governor will support to repeal the legislation.

The New Jersey court determined that this law does not violate the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act which only allows certain information to be disclosed such as that the driver is under the age of 21 or has a special learner’s or other type of permit or a probationary license. In its opinion, the court noted that “the driver’s age group constitutes neither ‘highly restricted personal information’ within the meaning of (the federal law) nor ‘personal information’ within the meaning of” the federal law. They stated that the lower court had properly determined that young drivers do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy since their appearance alone would likely reveal their approximate age.

The Law Offices of Charles Scholle specializes in serious injury and accident cases. These accidents require expertise and experience to build a legal case. Please contact my Gwinnett County and Atlanta area law offices if you have been injured in an accident in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I will consult with you at no charge to evaluate your vehicle accident rights and remedies.