On May 1, 2010, a new license decal became the standard for all underage drivers with a permit or probationary driver’s license. The law that brought this rule about, Kyleigh’s Law, is named for Kyleigh D’Alessio. Kyleigh was killed in 2006 when another teen driver crashed the car that she and two other teens were riding in, violating the passenger limit for teen drivers.
What is Kyleigh’s Law?
Kyleigh’s Law requires all drivers under the age of 21 who have a permit or probationary driver’s license to display a special red decal on their license plates to identify them as a teen driver. The decal designation is designed to help police identify vehicles driven by teens and help curb violations of New Jersey’s graduated driver’s license (GDL) program.
What changes did Kyleigh’s Law make to New Jersey’s GDL program?
Along with the decal requirement, several parts of the GDL program changed with the introduction of Kyleigh’s Law. The following rules now apply to all drivers under the age of 21 with a permit or probationary license.
- The driver cannot have more than one passenger, not including any dependent of the driver. The passenger limit does not apply if the driver is at least 21 years old or one passenger is the driver’s parent or guardian.
- The driver cannot drive between the hours of 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. except in an emergency, for bona fide employment, or for religion-related activity. Proof of employment or religious involvement is required to waive this restriction.
- The driver cannot use any hand-held or hands-free communication device while operating their vehicle unless it is in use for an emergency.
- All occupants of a vehicle driven by a teen driver must use restraints appropriate for their size.
As you can see, this rule increased the curfew time for teen drivers, better defined the communication device rules, and clarified the passenger restrictions to exempt driver dependents. Another important change is that teen drivers now require a parent or guardian, not just a person over 21, to satisfy the passenger limits.
What does Kyleigh’s Law hope to accomplish?
In the accident that killed Kyleigh, the teen driver had more than the legal limit of passengers in the vehicle. Kyleigh’s mother proposed the law after her daughter’s death, hoping to improve the enforcement of these rules and make it easier for officers to identify vehicles with teen drivers.
The hope is that teens will know they are under a closer watch by law enforcement and adhere to the rules. The restrictions imposed in the GDL program are designed to reduce teen driver distraction and prevent late-night driving when teens are more likely to be drowsy or unconfident in their night driving abilities. Despite the increased emphasis placed on teen driving responsibility, everyone should remember that parents can also be held responsible if their teen causes a crash.
If your teen is in a car accident, contact the law firm of Cordisco & Saile LLC. We help parents and teens alike handle the difficult process of seeking compensation when a negligent driver causes a crash. Call us at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free case evaluation.