Many new drivers are unaware of their rights and proper protocol when being pulled over by a police officer. To help educate residents to that extent, a bill encouraged by national dialogue on incidents occurring during routine law enforcement stops was approved by the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee Monday.
“Teaching drivers their rights as wells as how to safely interact with police during a stop must be a part of the driver curriculum. Surprisingly, the New Jersey Driver’s Manual currently does not include any language referencing what to do if stopped for a traffic violation,” said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “We are a diverse state comprised of many cultural backgrounds. Many new drivers may have their own perceptions of the police and do not know what a police stop entails. This bill aims to correct that discrepancy with a visual aid and tutorial of a standard police stop. An equally prepared driver and officer will make for more ‘safe stops’.”
The legislation (A-3871) — sponsored by Assembly Democrats Robert Karabinchak and Jamel Holley—would require a potential driver to watch a video, created by the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) and the Attorney General, before they take a written examination for a validated permit. The video will explain the rights and responsibilities of a driver stopped by a law enforcement officer.
“Over the years, police-involved shootings of unarmed people of color have made national news time and time again. These particular incidents have fueled conversations on how we can better prepare our communities for interactions with police,” said Holley (D-Union). “The one way we can, in conjunction with the policies many police departments have already put into place, is to help drivers understand their rights and what to expect as the driver of the vehicle if they are ever pulled over. At the end of the day, we want to make sure the members of our community and our police officers get home safely.”
The State Troopers Fraternal Association applauds the bill sponsors on taking the initiative in improving police and community relations and public safety with this legislation.
“Assuming control of a motor vehicle is a tremendous responsibility for all drivers but especially new and young drivers. Police officers in the State of New Jersey are among the most highly trained and professional in the nation and continually practice fair enforcement of the State’s traffic laws while ensuring the safety of the public and the police,” said Wayne Blanchard, President of the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association. “This bill underscores and the importance of educating new and young drivers on the importance of knowing their Rights on a motor vehicle stop but more importantly their safe and respectful interaction with police officers during the course of the motor vehicle stop. This will ensure that the motor vehicle stop ends in a safe and positive manner. Unfortunately, new and young drivers are susceptible to extreme misguidance by the media and other outlets with incorrect information as to what they are entitled to during an encounter with police officers which ultimately results in a breakdown in police and community relations.”
The bill also requires the MVC to expand the written examination to include a question, developed in conjunction with the Attorney General, testing the applicant’s knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of a driver stopped by a law enforcement officer.
The measures will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further review.