|New Singer Bill Creates Penalties for Road Rage Crimes Committed Against School Buses
Senator Takes Action Following Report of Man Who Shattered School Bus Window While Kids Were on Board
In response to a disturbing report of road rage in Howell, Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) has introduced legislation to create a new criminal mischief charge applicable to cases of road rage where a person damages a school bus in the presence of a child under the age of 16-years-old.
“Even in a high-traffic state like New Jersey, it is hard to believe that any driver could get so angry that they would put innocent children in harm’s way,” Senator Singer said. “There is no excuse for attacking a school bus filled with kids. What happened in Howell is every parent’s worst nightmare. We need to take action now, so that drivers know that this type of reckless behavior is completely unacceptable.”
Senator Singer chose to take action after reading a May 1 New Jersey 101.5 report detailing the trauma children in Howell endured when a man shattered the window of their school bus during an April 16 road rage incident. See the video here.
Under current law, criminal mischief is generally graded by the monetary value to the damaged property. If criminal mischief causes damage equaling a loss of $2,000 or more, it is a crime of the third degree, which is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison; and up to a $15,000 fine. If the loss is more than $500 and less than $2,000, it is a crime of the fourth degree, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison; and up to a $10,000 fine.
Senator Singer’s bill, S-3703, would create a new criminal mischief charge that would apply to road rage incidents involving school buses, regardless of the value of the damage caused.
Under his bill, damaging or impairing the operation of a school bus in the presence of a child during a road rage incident, would be a crime of the fourth degree, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Additionally, under the bill, if a child is injured during the road rage incident, the offense would be a crime of the third degree, punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
Singer’s legislation was officially introduced on Monday, May 13, 2019, in the state Senate.
“Unfortunately, road rage has become common in the Garden State, but clearly, our current penalties are not strong enough to stop hot-tempered drivers from taking out their anger on a school bus packed with kids,” Singer added. “Hopefully, by enacting a stronger deterrent, we can ensure that what happened in Howell never happens again.”