New Jersey's 8th Legislative District

Senator Dawn Marie Addiego

Senator Dawn Addiego

Addiego, Rudder & Delany: Abuse of Blue Lights Can Not Be Tolerated

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Lawmakers Will Introduce Three-Bill Package to Protect Public

A package of bills to be introduced by Senator Dawn Marie Addiego, Assemblyman Scott Rudder, and Assemblyman Pat Delany increasing the penalty for misuse of a flashing blue emergency light, establishing a fourth-degree crime for using a vehicle to impersonate a police officer, and providing for fines for selling blue lights to unqualified individuals.

The legislators were motivated by a recent incident in Medford in the 8th District. A teenage female driver was pulled over by a vehicle flashing a blue emergency light, but after she was questioned by the male “officer,” it became apparent that he was not a policeman.

“This is a story that could have had horrible repercussions,” said Senator Addiego. “Drivers of all ages need to be assured that flashing blue lights are used only for legitimate, lawful purposes. Public safety demands the highest level of public confidence.”

Blue lights can be used legally by volunteer firefighters and rescue squad members, when responding to an emergency. Office of Emergency Management volunteers can also use blue lights during an emergency response.

“At a time when we are requiring our teenagers to drive around with red stickers on the back of their cars, this is very disconcerting,” said Assemblyman Rudder. “As a father of three, it is horrifying to imagine anyone being pulled over on a dark road, and finding out they were not stopped by law enforcement. This young woman was very fortunate. The end result could have been much worse. We are taking steps to strengthen the law to prevent this from happening again.”

The legislators are writing one bill which doubles the fines for unlawful use of flashing blue warning lights. A second bill establishes a fourth degree crime for using a vehicle with any “insignia of law enforcement authority,” including but not limited to a blue light, while impersonating a police officer.

In the third bill of the package, retailers who sell blue emergency lights to unqualified individuals will be subject to fines – $500 for the first violation, and $1,000 for each subsequent violation. To purchase blue lights legally, an individual will be required to provide the retailer with the proper permit issued by the Motor Vehicles Commission. That permit is now required for first responders to use a blue light responding to an emergency.

“Blue lights are an important tool for our firefighters and EMS volunteers. We want to protect the public servants who use these lights properly in service of the community, and hold accountable those who use the lights with questionable motive,” said Assemblyman Delany.

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