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N.J. decal law upsets teens, parents

Fri, 04 Jun 2010

A New Jersey law--the first of its kind in the country--requiring drivers younger than 21 to put a small red decal on their license plates has both teens and adults upset, according to a story on the Wall Street Journal Web site.

When one mother took her 16-year-old to the Motor Vehicle Commission for a learner's permit, the clerk told her she needed to buy red decals for her daughter. "When hell freezes over, I'll buy those stickers," she told the Journal.

About 250,000 drivers are subject to the law, and the motor-vehicle department has sold 105,000 stickers. Teens caught without the decals face a $100 fine.

The sticker is part of Kyleigh's Law, named for a New Jersey teenager killed three years ago when the car in which she was riding crashed. A new driver was behind the wheel.

Most of the law (restrictions on night driving, how many people can be in the car, a ban on hands-free cell phones) aren't as controversial.

"My daughter will be driving in December," a New Jersey mother told AutoWeek, "and we will not be putting a sticker on her car. It's ridiculous. It's also crazy that you have to pay for them."

The decal is supposed to give police a way to enforce restrictions on young drivers, and the sticker's supporters say police can't enforce the law without them.

Teens, especially teen girls, say it's like putting a bull's-eye on the car for predators, prompting some state lawmakers to introduce legislation to repeal the decal requirement. One idea is to require young drivers to register the cars they'll be driving with the Motor Vehicle Commission, then police can check the license-plate number of someone they suspect may be violating restrictions.

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