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Quijano, Mainor & Pinkin Bill to Protect Consumers from Counterfeit Air Bags Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano (D-Union), Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) and Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex) to keep counterfeit air bags out of cars and motorists safe was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

“By tampering with air bags, these individuals are increasing the potential for injury or worse in the event of an accident,” said Quijano. “The roads are treacherous enough. Consumers should trust that the air bags in their vehicles will function properly if they are ever involved in a crash.”

“A properly working air bag can save a life. To think there are individuals who would willingly put others at risk for profit is sickening,” said Mainor. “Making, selling or knowingly installing faulty air bags is reprehensible and dangerous. This bill would make it a punishable crime.”

“Tinkering with equipment that is meant to protect drivers and passengers in the event of a crash puts motorists at grave risk,” said Pinkin. “This will help deter individuals who illegally profit from making, selling or installing nonfunctioning air bags, and keep residents safe on the road.”

The bill (A-3364) would prohibit the manufacture, sale or installation of counterfeit or nonfunctional air bags in motor vehicles. Specifically, a person who manufactures, imports, installs, reinstalls, sells or offers for sale any device meant to replace an air bag in any motor vehicle and knows or reasonably should know the device is a counterfeit air bag, a nonfunctional air bag, or does not meet certain federal safety requirements is guilty of a fourth degree crime.

In addition, a person who sells, installs, or reinstalls a device in any motor vehicle that causes the motor vehicle’s diagnostic system to inaccurately indicate that the vehicle is equipped with a functional air bag when a counterfeit air bag, a nonfunctional air bag, or no air bag has been installed is guilty of a fourth degree crime.

A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

The offenses created under this bill also constitute an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act, P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.). Each manufacture, importation, installation, reinstallation, sale, or offer for sale constitutes a separate and distinct violation under the bill.

An unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense, and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, a violation can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

The bill was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on May 7.