Legislation that aims to put an end to one of the most trivial traffic violations that police officers can issue has made its way to Governor Murphy’s desk, eagerly awaiting his signature. This particular ticket has long been criticized for its potential misuse as a pretext for targeted vehicle stops.
Known as a pretext stop, this practice involves law enforcement officers pulling over drivers for minor infractions while actually seeking to uncover potential hidden offenses. Such stops provide a legal means for police to conduct profiled searches.
The proposed bill seeks to abolish the issuance of traffic tickets for license plate frames that minimally obstruct the visibility of the “New Jersey” lettering on the plate. Under the new legislation, as long as the state name remains reasonably decipherable, even if marginally obscured by these frames, they would no longer be deemed illegal.
This legislation has garnered significant support, and many argue that it is long overdue. Critics assert that this law not only inconveniences drivers, who often bear no responsibility for the installation of such frames, but also enables pretext stops. These stops have disproportionately affected minority communities, young drivers, and individuals who may fit certain stereotypical profiles.
The implications for social justice are particularly salient in this context. Governor Murphy, who championed the legalization of recreational marijuana with a focus on rectifying the historical racial disparities in marijuana-related arrests, is now being urged to address the issue of social justice by eliminating this misguided and trivial traffic ticket. Advocates eagerly anticipate his signature on the bill, even if it pertains to the slight obscuration of a mere 4% of the lettering.
It is essential to note that the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Jeff Deminski, the talk show host of New Jersey 101.5. For those interested, the Deminski & Doyle show can be accessed through various platforms, including podcasts and their dedicated app.