New Jersey high court upholds decal law for young drivers

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of New Jersey [official website] on Monday upheld [opinion, PDF] a law [text, PDF] that requires young drivers to display decals on their license plates in order to enforce driving restrictions. The restrictions are part of New Jersey's graduated driver's license system (GDLS), which temporarily limits the driving privileges of young, first-time drivers. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision of the appeals court below, agreeing that the regulation does not violate young drivers' right to equal protection and is not preempted by federal law. Opponents of the law had argued that the law unfairly singled out young New Jersey residents, since the requirements did not apply to out-of-state drivers. The court determined, however, that all GDLS programs are limited by state residency, and that the state had a rational interest in better enforcing these regulations.

Striking a balance between government interests and the privacy of drivers has been a subject of legal controversy in recent years. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced last month that its affiliates in 38 states had sent letters to local and state police departments asking them to clarify [JURIST report] how they use information obtained fromcameras mounted near roads and highways that photograph and record license plate numbers. The ACLU expressed concern that some police departments were gathering and saving information about the traffic patterns of law-abiding citizens. The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in January that the government's attachment of a global positioning system (GPS) device to a vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment [text].

 

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