The Controversy Surrounding Kyleigh’s Law

by Mark Pearsall

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Kyleigh D'Alessio

On May 1st of this year, provisional (now probationary) drivers and permit drivers under the age of 21 must place new decals on their license plates that indicate they are driving under restrictions. This law is named Kyleigh’s Law after Kyleigh D’Alessio, a 16-year-old who was killed in a car accident when there was a provisional driver behind the wheel. Her mother, Donna Weeks, has been fighting to pass this law since the accident in 2006.  Now, all probationary drivers must have those decals, can only have one passenger, and cannot be on the road past 11 PM.

Previously, these same drivers were able to drive until midnight and were not required to put decals on their license plates. The strict limits this law brings has led to multiple campaigns agaist it, from both probationary drivers and their parents.  People feel that this new law with negatively identify young drivers, making them vulnerable to profiling and even violent crimes.  Parents, especially, are uncomfortable that the decals will alert all other drivers and observers that their children are driving alone in the car.

According to DMV officials, almost 70,000 pairs of decals have been sold, yet there are 250,000 drivers required to have the decals on their plates in New Jersey.  A new Facebook group, which argues that Kyleigh’s law is unfair, has over 30,000 members.

Kyleigh's Law Decal

Students at RFH have strong feelings about the law.  Junior Matt Douty, who has had his probationary license for six months, does not believe the law will work: “All they are doing is putting more inexperienced drivers on the road and labeling them.”

Junior Tom O’Keefe will be eligible to receive his license this June and  is especially worried about his female classmates: “It could put female drivers at risk.”

As the first few months pass, we will see if the groups trying to repeal this law succeed, or if young drivers will be subject to these new restrictions .  Until then, we can only continue to drive safely.

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*Images from: http://media.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/photo/nj-license-decals-kyleighs-lawjpg-34acd97fc61e7f1d_large.jpg and http://blog.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/2008/12/small_oibts.jpg

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