New Jersey Assembly panel OKs bill to crack down on road rage

| 12/2/2008

A bill in New Jersey intended to help curb road rage is one step closer to passage. Dubbed “Jessica’s Law,” the measure would make such offenses as tailgating and making obscene gestures while driving primary offenses.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would allow police to cite drivers for engaging in a pattern of aggressive driving – defined as two or more violations occurring at the same time.

Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, D-Monroe, wrote in the bill that it would be illegal for motorists to make audible verbal threats, flash headlights, use demeaning gestures or direct other such actions at persons driving lawfully.

This is the second year in a row Greenstein has pursued the effort. A year ago, the bill advanced from committee but didn’t come up for consideration before the full Assembly.

The effort is named for Jessica Rogers of Hamilton, NJ. At age 16, Rogers suffered severe injuries and was paralyzed from the neck down following a March 2005 wreck that resulted from an incident with another vehicle. The driver of the vehicle she was riding in hit a pole while trying to catch a car that cut him off. The driver was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation.

“Drivers who put their own selfish needs before the safety of the public must be held accountable,” Greenstein said in a written statement.

If signed into law, the maximum penalty for driving aggressively would be five years in prison – up from 18 months in current law.

The bill – A1561 – is awaiting consideration on the Assembly floor. If approved there, it would advance to the Senate.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor