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New Jersey teen drivers to be marked by red license tabs

A state statute known as Kyleigh’s Law that requires teen drivers to have specially marked license tabs has been upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The law applies only to drivers who are still subject to the state’s graduated licensing program which restricts driving privileges for young, inexperienced motorists.

Graduated licensing programs have been shown to reduce car accidents and fatalities among teen drivers, who are the most likely of any age group to be involved in a deadly crash. The law is designed to help police more easily identify drivers violating curfew laws and other similar restrictions.

Critics of the measure argued that the statute unfairly singled out teens and violated their right to privacy.

Whether there is a constitutionally prohibited violation of the right to privacy depends on whether or not the person had a reasonable expectation of privacy to begin with.

For formal police searches, cars are an exception to the rule that police must have a warrant in order to conduct a search. Incidents that occur in public view are not generally protected by the right to privacy, since the person is presumed to have waived the right by being in public in the first place. The court in New Jersey wrote that a teenager’s age is readily observable and is information routinely exposed to public view, and that therefore they have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding their age.

The law is named for a 16-year-old New Jersey girl who died in a 2006 car accident involving a provisional driver who was violating the terms of their license.

Source: Bloomberg, “New Jersey’s Young-Drier Law Not Flawed, Court Concludes,” Jeff Feeley, August 6, 2012.

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