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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Jeff Van Drew and Donald Norcross to prohibit vehicle checkpoints that are limited to motorcycles was approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee.
The bill (S-1685) is in response to a program states are being encouraged to implement which would establish checkpoints where motorcycle drivers are subject to an equipment and paperwork check. The measure would prohibit law enforcement agencies from conducting a roadside checkpoint or other systematic inspection of vehicles along public roads, streets, and highways if it is established for the sole purpose of inspecting vehicles. Those conducted for legitimate public safety reasons would not be restricted.
“Stopping a driver strictly because of the type of vehicle they are operating is unfair to motorists, plain and simple,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “Banning these discriminatory checkpoints will ensure that those traveling our roadways are not targeted by law enforcement simply because they are operating a motorcycle.”
“Motorcyclists should not be singled out at a checkpoint merely because they are driving a certain kind of vehicle,” said Senator Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill will ensure that our motor vehicle rules are carried out in an evenhanded manner and that drivers are treated fairly under our laws.”
Three states – New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington – recently enacted similar legislation in response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (“NHTSA”) funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints to stop motorcyclists to check equipment and vehicle paperwork. The NHTSA program, which began in New York State, encourages states to establish checkpoints where only motorcycles are pulled over.
According to the American Motorcyclist Association, the state of Georgia conducted roadside motorcycle-only checkpoints with NHTSA funding as thousands of motorcyclists rode through the state on their way to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Bike Week, March 4-13, 2011. Another motorcycle-only checkpoint was conducted in northern Virginia during one of the nation's most visible motorcycle rallies -- Rolling Thunder -- over the 2011 Memorial Day weekend, according to the AMA. Last year, legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to bar the U.S. Transportation Secretary from providing federal money for motorcycle checkpoints. At least 50 members of the House of Representatives have signed onto the legislation, the AMA reported.
The Transportation Committee approved the senators’ bill by a vote of 4-0. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
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