N.J. Assembly considers strict regulations on teen drivers

(NJ.COM)   The state Assembly is scheduled to vote this afternoon on a package of teen driving bills that would require a decal on vehicles used by those with provisional driver’s licenses, extend driving restrictions for the provisional driver’s license to those under 21, and mandate additional new driver training.

The legislative package, sponsored by Assembly members Anthony Chiappone (D-Hudson), John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) and Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Camden), would implement the top recommendations of the state’s Teen Driver Study Commission from a report last year.

The changes affect the graduated driver’s license law, adopted in 2001, which created a step between the learning permit and the full driver’s license called the probationary, or provisional, license.

"We need to give newly minted drivers the tools they need to become safe, responsible motorists," Chiappone said in a statement. "Encouraging safe driving practices, enhancing penalties for bad driving and increasing the amount of time required behind the wheel will go a long way toward that goal."

One of the four bills, named Kyleigh’s Law, would require drivers who hold a learner’s permit, examination permit or provisional driver’s license to display an MVC-issued decal on the vehicle they are driving, or face a $100 fine.

The bill is named after Kyleigh Dalessio, a 16-year-old honor student and recognized athlete from Long Valley who died in an accident involving another young driver with multiple passengers in the vehicle.

Pollice officers have testified before the commission that graduated license restrictions are difficult to enforce because patrol officers have no way of knowing whether the driver of a car loaded with passengers is a 17-year-old with a provisional license or an 18-year-old with full driving privileges.

Another bill would require teen drivers with a learner’s permit to log at least 50 hours of practice driving – including 10 hours of night driving – certified by a parent, guardian or supervising driver, along with the required six-hour driving course.

Drivers age 17 to 20 who obtain an examination permit would be given the option to either complete the learner’s permit certification requirements or complete 100 hours of certified driving, including 20 hours of night driving.

Also, any driver under 18 years old would not be able to obtain a permit until their parent or guardian attends a teen driver orientation program. Drivers under 21 who have been issued learner’s or examination permits would further be required to hold those permits for one year before being eligible for a provisional license.

Another bill would prevent provisional and learning drivers from using plea bargains on driving offenses to reduce the severity of the violation.


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