N.J. Upholds Law Requiring Young Drivers’ License Decal

August 13, 2012

New Jersey’s top court upheld a controversial law last week that requires young drivers to purchase and display red decals on the license plate of the cars they drive.

The state Supreme Court’s ruling on Kyleigh’s Law, on August 6, affirms an earlier decision by the Appellate Division.

The court ruled that identifying someone as a young driver with red decals on license plates should not be regarded as disclosing “highly restrictive personal information” — thus the law is not in violation of the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, according to the court’s decision. The court also said police officers’ review of the decals does not constitute an unreasonable search and seizure.

Under the law, young drivers in N.J. are required to post red decals on the top left corner of the front and rear license plates of their car. Photo: N.J. Office of the Attorney General

“Young drivers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their age group, which can generally be determined by their physical appearance and is routinely exposed to public view. Because the decal is affixed to the exterior of the car, in plain view, an officer’s review of the decal does not constitute a search,” the New Jersey Supreme Court stated in its ruling.

Proponents of the law say these decals make it easier for police officers to identify young drivers on the road and help enforce conditions of their permits and licenses, such as limits on the number of passengers.

However, critics of the law maintain that posting highly visible red decals on license plates can make teen drivers targets of potential criminals.

Kyleigh’s Law requires any driver under age 21, who holds a permit or probationary driver license, to buy a $4.00 pair of red decals and post them on front and rear license plates of their cars. The requirement went into effect in May 2010. Kyleigh’s Law is named for Kyleigh D’Alessio, a New Jersey teen who was killed in a car crash in 2006.

More information on Kyleigh’s Law can be found on New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission website.

Topics Personal Auto New Jersey

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