ASSEMBLY, No. 1050

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  JON M. BRAMNICK

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  JOHN S. WISNIEWSKI

District 19 (Middlesex)

Assemblyman  PATRICK J. DIEGNAN, JR.

District 18 (Middlesex)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Prieto

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Creates new motor vehicle offense of engaging in a pattern of aggressive driving.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning aggressive driving and amending and supplementing Title 39 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section)  As used in this act:

     a.     "Form of aggressive driving" means an act of:

     (1)   Excessive speeding involving any single offense for a speed of 25 miles per hour or more above the speed limit;

     (2)   Following a vehicle ahead too closely pursuant to R.S.39:4-89;

     (3)   Improper or erratic traffic lane changes;

     (4)   Improper overtaking or passing another vehicle off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway, unless in conformity with R.S.39:4-85;

     (5)   Failing to yield the right of way;

     (6)   Violating official traffic control devices as defined in R.S.39:1-1; or

     (7)   Audible verbal threats or insults, flashing of headlights, use of demeaning gestures or other such actions directed at persons driving lawfully, which, in the manner used, would cause a reasonable person to believe that the action was designed to display anger or to intimidate or threaten the person.

     b.    "Pattern of aggressive driving" or “aggressive driving” means an act committed while operating a passenger or commercial motor vehicle in close proximity to another vehicle during a single, continuous period of driving for up to five consecutive miles in combination with either:

     (1)   Two or more different forms of aggressive driving engaged in simultaneously or in succession, or

     (2)   Three or more successive acts of any one form of aggressive driving.

 

     2.    (New section)  a.  In addition to any other penalties that may be applicable, a person who engages in a pattern of aggressive driving:

     (1)   For a first offense shall have his license suspended for not less than 15 or more than 30 days or attend a special training and education class on aggressive driving or anger management that is either conducted or approved by the commission, or both;

     (2)   For a second or subsequent offense within 24 months, or for any offense at any time involving serious bodily injury or significant bodily injury as defined in N.J.S. 2C:11-1 or death to another person, shall have his license suspended for not less than 60 or more than 90 days, or by a fine of not less than $1000 or more than $3000, in the discretion of the court, or both.

     b.    A municipal prosecutor shall not recommend to the court to accept a plea to a lesser or other offense.

 

     3.    (New section)  The administrator of the commission, in consultation with Director of the Office of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety, shall:

     a.     Conduct, when this act becomes effective and periodically thereafter, public information campaigns to increase public awareness and educate drivers concerning the dangers of aggressive driving.  The campaigns shall focus on situations that precipitate aggressive driving behavior; the provisions of this act, including penalties for violations thereof; and promoting the State Police toll-free public telephone service for reporting aggressive drivers.

     b.    Prepare and deliver to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly, no later than 15 months after the effective date of this act and every two years thereafter, a report setting forth the number of citations issued for engaging in a pattern of aggressive driving in this State during the reporting period.

     c.     Submit any recommendations for any legislation it deems appropriate to the Governor and the presiding officers of each House.

 

     4.    R.S.39:4-85 is amended to read as follows:

     39:4-85.  The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a safe distance to the left thereof and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.  If vehicles on the roadway are moving in two or more substantially continuous lines, the provisions of this paragraph and section 39:4-87 of this Title shall not be considered as prohibiting the vehicles in one line overtaking and passing the vehicles in another line either upon the right or left, nor shall those provisions be construed to prohibit drivers overtaking and passing upon the right another vehicle which is making or about to make a left turn.

     The driver of an overtaking motor vehicle not within a business or residence district shall give audible warning with his horn or other warning device before passing or attempting to pass a vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

     The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right as provided in this section only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.  In no event, however, shall such movement be made by driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway except on the improved portion of a two-lane roadway when another vehicle directly in front is making or about to make a left turn and the flow of traffic is otherwise unnecessarily impeded.

(cf: P.L.1951, c.23, s.45)

     5.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month after enactment, but the administrator of the commission may take such anticipatory acts in advance of that date as may be necessary for the timely implementation of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill creates a new motor vehicle offense to be known as “engaging in a pattern of aggressive driving" or “aggressive driving.”  It is a unique and distinct offense that targets certain violations as part of a single continuous sequence of driving acts.  It would recognize the seriousness of aggressive driving by reinforcing the notion that it is a behavioral problem requiring education and more stringent law enforcement and raise its priority among law enforcement, prosecutors and judges.

     According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, by self-reports in polls, one-half of the drivers in New Jersey are angry behind the wheel and/or trying to punish others.  Therefore, it is not surprising that across the nation, more than 60 percent of drivers recently surveyed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that aggressive driving is a threat to them or their families.

     The new offense of committing a pattern of aggressive driving refers to either:

·         Two or more forms of aggressive driving engaged in simultaneously or in succession; or

·         Three or more successive acts of any one form of aggressive driving.

     To qualify as such an offense, the acts must be committed in close proximity to another vehicle during a single, continuous period of driving over the course of up to five miles.

     The bill includes, as acts of aggressive driving:

·         Driving 25 miles per hour or more over the speed limit

·         Tailgating

·         Improper or erratic lane changes

·         Unsafe passing off the roadway

·         Failing to yield the right of way

·         Violating traffic control devices such as lights and signs

     Audible verbal threats or insults, flashing of headlights and use of demeaning gestures at persons driving lawfully when designed to show anger, or to intimidate or threaten.

     The penalties in the bill are based conceptually on recommendations from a 1999 national symposium organized by the National Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.  The symposium's "break-out group" recommended that states consider, among other things, that:

·         a conviction for an aggressive driving violation involve a significant number of points and/or minimum license suspension; and

·         enhanced penalties should accompany repeat violations or those that cause injury or death.

Penalties in the bill range from a 15 to 30 day suspension and/or attendance in an aggressive driving and/or anger management class for a first offense to 60 to 90 day suspension and/or $1000 to $3000 fine for a second or subsequent offense within 24 months or one that causes significant injury or death to another person.  There would be no plea bargaining.

     The Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Highway Traffic Safety, is required to conduct public education campaigns about the danger of aggressive driving and the content of the new law and promote the reporting of aggressive drivers on the State’s toll-free telephone line.  It would periodically report citations for aggressive driving to the legislative leadership and make recommendations for legislative amendments to the relevant standing committees.

     The bill also amends R.S.39:4-85 by modifying an antiquated half-century old requirement that prohibits all passing on the right when off the pavement or "main-traveled portion" of a highway. Passing a vehicle safely on the right on a two-lane road when another vehicle directly in front is making a left would not be considered a form of aggressive driving under the bill.