Reuters reported on August 8, 2012, that Kyleigh’s Law, which requires any New Jersey-licensed drivers under 21 with a provisional license to place a bright red sticker on the top left-hand corner of each of their two license plates for a year, has been upheld by the state Supreme Court. New Jersey law states that provisional license holders can only carry one passenger with them, and the law is named for Kyleigh D’Alessio, a teen killed in a car that was carrying too many passengers. The idea behind it is that police officers will be better able to enforce these restrictions and the 11 p.m. curfew on provisional license holders much more easily. Any violations, including not sporting the two red stickers in question, will result in a $100 fine.
Kyleigh D’Alessio’s death was of course tragic and senseless, but critics of the law say that the notion of teenagers’ cars being marked with stickers is threatening to their safety. Teens face a potentially threefold threat: they are more likely to face age-profiling by police, they may be put at risk by the aggressive driving of others (and thus potentially auto accidents and injuries), and they are also made much more easy targets for predators on the road. An investigation last year stated that there has been at least one instance already of a 17-year-old girl being pulled over and harassed by a man posing as a police officer.
One parent interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said, “I was very concerned with [my daughter] walking back to her car at night [after work] and these decals on her car saying, ‘a young person drives this car.’ I was told they’re supposed to take the stickers off and replace them when they come back to the car, but to me that meant a young person spending too much time outside her car late at night.”
Another said in The Star-Ledger, “It’s not going to stop the bad kids from breaking the law. I don’t think it will stop accidents from happening. I bought it, but I refuse to put it on her car. If she gets ticketed, I’m going to court with her to fight it because it’s profiling.”
The justices of the highest court in New Jersey upheld the law in its most recent appeal. The Wall Street Journal explains, “‘A driver’s age group constitutes neither “highly restricted personal information” nor “personal information” within the meaning of current federal law,’ the justices wrote. The decals don’t give rise to unreasonable search and seizure because they are plainly visible and don’t require police officers to stop and search a vehicle, they wrote.”Justices add, “As the appellate division properly held, the young drivers subject to (Kyleigh’s Law) have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their age group because a driver’s age group can generally be determined by his or her physical appearance.”
The law continues to be a controversial one, and both sides are arguing for admirable causes: supporters hope to limit car accidents and keep teens safe on the roads, opponents are trying to protect privacy and allow teens to remain inconspicuous to other drivers.