Sen. John H. Adler (D., Camden), at the urging of his 6-year-old son, Andrew, introduced the "6 or 60" law. It was cosponsored by Sen. Leonard T. Connors Jr. (R., Ocean).
The committee hearing featured emotional testimony from nurses and insurance companies in support of the current law, and from parents of 6- and 7-year-olds who begged for an end to their backseat battles.
A similar amendment to the booster-seat law - a "5 or 50" bill, also sponsored by Adler - was defeated in the Senate's Law and Public Safety Committee just two days before the "8 or 80" law took effect.
New Jersey is the only state to pass the regulation in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recommendations. Six other states have booster-seat laws, but most are "5 or 50" laws. Out-of-state drivers are not exempt from New Jersey's law.
"I think this version passed because people could draw the distinction that first graders and up are allowed out of the booster seats, while the little ones, the kindergartners and preschoolers, are not," Adler said.
As for Andrew, Adler said his son now rides in a booster seat - but that most of his friends are scofflaws.
Kaitlin Gurney's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.