NEW JERSEY 101.5

New Jersey drivers could soon face fines if lamps or other illuminating devices equipped on a motor vehicle are not kept in good working order under a bill working its way through Trenton.  Currently, only two brake lights must be functional even though new cars have three or more brake lights. 

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"Since safety inspections were eliminated three years ago a lot of motorists simply aren't keeping their cars repaired because they no longer have the fear of not getting the inspection sticker," explained Eric Blomgren, government affairs assistant with the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automotive Association. "The reason that a lot of people are putting off getting these lights fixed is simply because they don't want to pay for it and they think they can get away with it and now hopefully a fine will encourage them."

The legislation sponsored by Sen. Nick Sacco was recently approved by the State Senate Transportation Committee.  The bill has already cleared the full Assembly.  Under the measure, drivers would face an equipment violation if any lighting device installed on a vehicle is not in working order.

"Everyone has noticed as you're driving around on the highway sometimes traffic just comes to a dead stop and sometimes the reason that you're able to stop on time is because you can see brake lights come on and a lot times it's that high-mounted brake light," said Blomgren. "Now everyone is so used to seeing them that if you don't see it, you think that the guy's not stopping and that can cause an accident."

The bill is in response to a recent Appellate Division case (State v. McDade) where the defendant moved to suppress evidence of a driving while intoxicated offense on the grounds that the police officer had no legal basis for stopping the vehicle because, even though a light was out, the car still had the minimum required number of working lights.