Ice & Snow – Remove It Before You Go | Toms River Attorney

Break out that snow shovel or snow blower and the snow brush and scraper! That beautiful coat of white snow atop your driveway, sidewalk and car could cost you greatly if you don’t remove it.

Property

As a property owner, you have legal obligations to keep your property clean, safe and free of ice. Not only could you face fines, but you could also face a lawsuit if someone is hurt. For instance, Toms River will penalize you $100 for your first offense and $200 for each subsequent offense up to $1,000.00 (each day is a separate offense). Brick is cracking down as well, and the ordinance dealing with penalties is a default provision which indicates a fine not to exceed $2,000 or no more than 90 days community service. There are also time limits within which you must have the snow removed. Check your local municipality for exact time frames.

What’s worse is that if you do not shovel the snow, and someone is injured because of that, you may be liable for their injuries. Property owners must use reasonable care in keeping their property safe, and if someone gets hurt because of an unsafe condition, that owner may be brought into a lawsuit.

Although you may be an expert shoveler, sometimes you may miss a spot. So you should ensure you have liability insurance coverage to pay the cost of your legal defense and any court awards (up to the limit of your policy) should someone be injured on your property and sue you. Check with your insurance agent for the best coverage.

Vehicles

Not only is there a requirement to keep your property safe, but in New Jersey, you break the law when you do not remove the ice and snow from your vehicle.

Ice & Snow – Remove It Before You Go

I’m sure you’ve seen the famous and oh-so-clever jingle on your way to work, but it is a serious law in New Jersey. You have to remove all the ice and snow from your vehicle before driving it on the road — from the hood, windows and roof. If you don’t, you face fines from $25 to $75 for each offense whether or not the ice or snow is dislodged from your car. The fines are increased if ice or snow flies off your car or truck and causes property damage or injury to others: $200 to $1,000 for each offense. And don’t forget the ever-impending civil lawsuit for injuries that could always come your way if your negligence causes another driver’s injuries in an accident.

According to www.nj.gov, there are approximately 500 fatalities in the United States per year due to winter road conditions. In an effort to combat that statistic, the State of New Jersey gives the following Winter Driving Tips:

  • Drive slow (at or below the posted speed limit) and adjust your speed accordingly for the changing road conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights, using low beams when traveling in snow.
  • Increase your following distance. In winter weather, travel at least 8 to 10 seconds behind the car in front of you.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room to work. Don’t tailgate and try not to pass. If you must pass, take extreme caution in doing so. Remember, a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see him, but they don’t always see you.
  • If you skid, don’t brake or accelerate. Remove your foot from the gas, and gently steer your car in the direction of the skid (the direction the rear of your vehicle is sliding). When your car starts heading in the desired direction, carefully straighten the wheel.
  • Slow down before exiting the highway. Exit ramps often have icy patches, sharp curves and stalled and/or stopped vehicles.
  • Have a personal safety kit easily accessible in your vehicle that includes the following: an ice scraper/brush; shovel; jumper cables or battery starter; blanket; sand, salt or kitty litter for traction; lock de-icer; flashlight and new batteries; extra windshield wiper fluid; safety flares/warning device; cell phone with spare battery; water and non-perishable food (i.e., granola or protein bars); and paper towels or a cloth.
  • If your vehicle does become disabled, pull off the road as far as possible and turn on your emergency flashers. Remain with your vehicle until help arrives. If you can’t get your vehicles off the road and are uncertain about your safety, do not stay in your vehicle or stand behind it. Proceed carefully to a safe location away from traffic.

How the Law Offices of Apicelli, Costanzo & Russom can help you:

If you were seriously injured because of someone else’s negligence, call us today! Because there are time limitations on how long you have to file a lawsuit, it is very important that you do not sit on your rights. If the accident lawyers here at the Law Offices of Apicelli, Costanzo & Russom take your personal injury case, we will begin work right way to make sure that we preserve as much evidence as possible to help you recover a settlement for your damages.

Our NJ car accident attorneys are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and can help you obtain an award that adequately compensates you for your injuries and suffering. As a client-focused law firm, we will not hesitate to pursue your rights in court if the responsible party refuses to make you a reasonable offer in satisfaction of your injuries.

No fees unless we recover money for you. If you retain the NJ injury lawyers here at the Law Offices of Apicelli, Costanzo & Russom to represent you on a personal injury matter, we will not charge you a fee for our services if we do not recover money for you.

Contact us today to tell us about your case and see how an experienced NJ personal injury attorney can help you.

1 Killed, 2 Injured in Car Accident on Garden State Parkway in New Jersey | NJ Accident Lawyer

NBC New York reports that at approximately 3:45 a.m. on Sunday, March 09, 2014, a Linden, NJ man was killed and two other people suffered injuries in a three-vehicle car accident on the Garden State Parkway in Clark, New Jersey.

The Star-Ledger reported that the man, Hector Gomez (22), was found in the roadway when State Police arrived at the scene. Unfortunately, Gomez died approximately an hour after arriving at University Hospital in Newark.

The other drivers, who were hospitalized but suffered non-life threatening injuries, were Brittany Echevarria (18) of Cranford, NJ and Jason Star (37) of Asbury Park, NJ. Echevarria was airlifted and Star driven by ambulance to University Hospital.

How many people die in car accidents each year in New Jersey?

In 2013, car accidents caused 548 deaths in New Jersey and 72 already in 2014 (source: NJ State Police). The 2013 total is 6 more than the 2012 total. That is a lot of people to die in an auto accident which turns into a lot of insurance claims and a lot of personal injury/wrongful death lawsuits.

What causes these accidents? Read below to find out more about the

The 5 Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

  1. Drunk Driving. People who were driving under the influence caused 31% of all traffic deaths in the United States in 2011 which amounted to 9,878 fatalities (source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration).
  2. Speeding. At a national level, those who drove their vehicles too fast caused 30% of all car accident deaths in 2011 (source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration).
  3. Distracted Driving. Distracted drivers caused 3,360 deaths in 2011, which is slightly more than the 3,328 in 2012 (source: Distraction.gov). Distracted driving takes many shapes, from texting while driving to changing the radio station to eating your favorite fast food burger to swatting the fly on the inside of your windshield. The most common accident caused by distracted drivers is rear-end accidents. Rear-end crashes accounted for 29% of all car accidents in the United States in 2007 (source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration). When people take their eyes of the road for any reason, all drivers and passengers around them are at risk of losing their lives.
  4. Driving Tired. Exhausted drivers accounted for 16.5% of all car accident fatalities in 2010 in the United States (source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety). The test for drowsiness, however, also included the use of sedatives, drinking alcohol, and driving long distances without taking a break.
  5. Running a Red Light. In 2012, those who ran a red light caused 683 traffic deaths and approximately 133,000 injuries (source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

How the Law Offices of Apicelli, Costanzo & Russom can help you:

If you were seriously injured because of someone else’s negligence, call us today! Because there are time limitations on how long you have to file a lawsuit, it is very important that you do not sit on your rights. If the accident lawyers here at the Law Offices of Apicelli, Costanzo & Russom take your personal injury case, we will begin work right way to make sure that we preserve as much evidence as possible to help you recover a settlement for your damages.

Our NJ car accident attorneys are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and can help you obtain an award that adequately compensates you for your injuries and suffering. As a client-focused law firm, we will not hesitate to pursue your rights in court if the responsible party refuses to make you a reasonable offer in satisfaction of your injuries.

No fees unless we recover money for you. If you retain the NJ injury lawyers here at the Law Offices of Apicelli, Costanzo & Russom to represent you on a personal injury matter, we will not charge you a fee for our services if we do not recover money for you.

Contact us today to tell us about your case and see how an experienced NJ personal injury attorney can help you.

Sender of Text to Driver Liable for Injury

It is well known that New Jersey has banned the general use of cell phones while driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3). This includes texting, talking and even web surfing on your mobile phone. While the law allows the use of a cell phone under limited circumstances, the law is clear that cell phone use is no longer tolerated in this state.

A recent case has put further limits on the use of cell phones even if the person isn’t driving at all. In Kubert v. Best, it was held that the sender of a text message can be liable for injuries if a driving accident was caused because the driver of the automobile was distracted by the texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the driver-recipient would read the text while driving and thus be distracted.

In this case, David Kubert and his wife, Linda, both lost their left legs as a result of being hit by a pick-up truck driven by Kyle Best (18 years old), who crossed the double center line of the road and traveled into the Kuberts’ lane. Best called 9-1-1 15 seconds after 5:49 p.m., which was 17 seconds after Best sent a text to Shannon Colonna, a girl he had been texting all day. It was inferred that this text to her was in response to a text he received from Colonna 25 seconds earlier.

After settling their claims against Best, the Kuberts brought suit against Colonna, arguing that she is liable to them if her text to Best was a proximate cause of the accident. Colonna was not held liable, as the evidence was insufficient against her.

It is not enough to establish that the text sender sent the message to a specific person, even if the sender knew the recipient was then driving. It was concluded that proof of liability is sufficient where the text sender knew the text recipient was then driving, that the text sender knew or had special reason to know that the driver would read the text message while driving, and would thus be distracted from attending to the road and the operation of the vehicle. A text sender can safely assume that the driver-recipient will view and read the text message when it is safe to do so. However, if the text sender knows that the driver-recipient will view and read the text message immediately upon receipt, then the text sender has distracted the driver and can be fairly held liable for the results.

The way to avoid a result like this is easy: DO NOT SEND TEXT MESSAGES TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW ARE CURRENTLY DRIVING. Otherwise, a text sent to a driver can make you just as liable for causing an accident as the one behind the wheel.

Proposed Anti-Gun Laws in New Jersey

In the wake of one of the most—probably the most—devastating and horrendous shooting massacres in recent history, which occurred at the hand of Adam Lanza in Newton, Connecticut, anti- and pro-firearms activists around the country have called for a re-examination of the current laws in effect controlling the rights of Americans to own and bear firearms. Whether you own firearms, despise them, or are indifferent to them, you probably have an opinion on how mass-murdering shooters like Adam Lanza or James Holmes, the Batman shooter, can be prohibited or prevented from getting their hands on firearms. Most propose New Jersey anti-gun laws, rather than pro-gun laws. Legislators of the State of New Jersey have heard the opinions of the people and firearms activists and have proposed quite a number of laws that they hope can halt the risk of mass-shootings at its core. The following is a short synopsis of the major bills proposed in the State of New Jersey:

  • Assembly Bill 3664 sponsored by Representatives Joseph Cryan (D), Jason O’Donnell (D), and Mila Jasey (D). “This bill revises the definition of ‘large capacity ammunition magazine’ to reduce the number of rounds of ammunition a legal magazine may hold in this State. Under current law, it is unlawful to own or possess an ammunition magazine that is capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition. This bill would reduce the maximum capacity of a legal ammunition magazine in New Jersey to five rounds.”
  • Assembly Bill 3676 sponsored by Representative Angelica Jimenez (D). “This bill would require any person applying for a firearms purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun to submit the results of a psychological evaluation before being issued the card or permit. Under the bill, the Superintendant of State Police would be responsible for issuing guidelines concerning the content of the psychological examination, the qualifications necessary to administer the psychological examination, maintaining confidentiality of the subject of the examination, compliance with federal law, and any other guideline the superintendant deems necessary. The bill also would require applicants to have an on-site inspection and evaluation of the household where the firearm will be located.”
  • Assembly Bill 3688 sponsored by Representatives Charles Mainor (D) and Angelica Jimenez (D). “This bill would require any person applying for a firearms purchaser identification card or handgun purchase permit to submit the results of a mental health evaluation as a prerequisite for issuance of the card or permit. The bill also would require applicants to submit a list of the names of every person residing in the applicant’s household and whether the person has a mental illness. In light of the recent mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 six- and seven-year old students and six adults were killed by a gunman with a history of mental illness, it is the sponsor’s intent that any person in this State who wants to purchase a firearm must first meet a certain standard of mental capacity to do so.”
  • Assembly Bill 3666 sponsored by Representatives Joseph Cryan (D), Jason O’Donnell (D), and Mila Jasey (D). “This bill would make mail order, Internet, telephone, and any other anonymous method of ammunition sale or transfer illegal in New Jersey. The provisions of the bill require that all ammunition sales and transfers be consummated as face-to-face transactions and that at the time of the sale or transfer the purchaser or recipient display a valid form of picture identification to the person selling or transferring the ammunition. Face-to-face transactions are defined as sales or transfers in which the purchaser, transferee, or assignee is in the physical presence of the seller, transferor, or assigner. Under the bill, a violator would be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by imprisonment for a term of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Federal and State licensees and dealers, law enforcement agencies and officials, and collectors when purchasing, acquiring, or transferring ammunition which is recognized as being historical in nature or of historical significance, are exempted from the provisions of the bill.”
  • Senate Bill 2464 sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner (D). “This bill would regulate the sale of rifle and shotgun ammunition. Under the provisions of the bill, only individuals who hold and can display a valid firearms purchaser identification card, a valid copy of a permit to purchase a handgun, a valid permit to carry a handgun, or a valid New Jersey hunting license would be permitted to purchase and possess rifle or shotgun ammunition in this State. The bill exempts individuals who are collectors of firearms or ammunition as curios or relics who purchase, receive, acquire, possess, or transfer rifle ammunition or shotgun ammunition which is recognized as being historical in nature or of historical significance. The bill also provides an exemption for law enforcement personnel and law enforcement purposes. In addition, the bill permits the transfer of some ammunition for use in a lawfully transferred firearm for (1) use on a firing range operated by a licensed dealer, a law enforcement agency, a legally recognized military organization, or a registered rifle or pistol club; (2) hunting; or (3) training purposes. The bill’s restrictions on the sale and possession of ammunition do not apply to blank ammunition, air gun pellets, flare gun ammunition, nail gun ammunition, paint ball ammunition, or any non-fixed ammunition.”
  • Assembly Bill 3659 sponsored by Representative Peter Barnes (D). “This bill amends N.J.S.2C:39-1 to revise the definition of ‘destructive device’ so that it includes weapons of 50 caliber or greater. Although it centers primarily on devices or instruments designed to explode or produce uncontrolled combustion, the current statutory definition of ‘destructive device’ also includes weapons which fire projectiles of greater than 60 caliber. Under the bill and subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:39-3, it would be unlawful to possess a firearm having a caliber of 50 or greater. A person violating this provision would be guilty of a crime of the third degree. A crime of the third degree is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, imprisonment for three to five years, or both. The bill does, however, provide exemptions for 1) antique firearms; 2) antique handguns; 3) muzzleloader rifles; and 4) black powder muzzleloaders having in-line ignition, a center hammer or an under hammer which have been approved for hunting in this State. These firearms would continue to be governed by the statute’s current ‘greater than 60 caliber’ restriction. Antique firearms and handguns are defined in the statutes as firearms which: (1) do not fire fixed ammunition or were manufactured before 1898 and for which fixed ammunition is not commercially available; and (2) are possessed as a curiosity or ornament or for their historical significance or value.  The statutory definition of ‘antique handgun’ includes replicas; under this bill, ‘antique firearm’ and ‘antique cannon’ are also defined to include replicas. The bill defines a muzzleloader rifle to mean a single shot, single barrel, side lock percussion or flintlock firearm with iron or peep sights, or with a fiber optic sight or scope, and a stock made of wood or any synthetic material. The bill also excludes from the definition of a destructive device any firearm with a bore diameter larger than 60 caliber whose principle means of ignition are traditional flintlock or caplock and whose principle propellant is black powder.  This would allow the possession of certain weapons greater than 60 caliber currently used by revolutionary war re-enactors. Under the provisions of the bill, it would be unlawful for anyone to possess a prohibited firearm of 50 caliber or greater. The bill, however, grants individuals who lawfully own one of these prohibited firearms one year in which to dispose of them. To facilitate the voluntary surrender of these firearms, the bill authorizes the Superintendent of State Police to establish a buyback program. Funding for this program is to be provided by the Attorney General from the proceeds acquired from the property and valuables forfeited by convicted criminals. Those not wishing to participate in this buyback program may (1) sell their prohibited firearm to someone who is authorized to lawfully possess it or (2) render the prohibited firearm inoperable and so notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. Finally, the bill affords immunity from prosecution to individuals during the interim between the effective date of the bill and the actual establishment of the buyback program. Thereafter, the bill affords immunity from prosecution to individuals for their actions associated with their participation in the buyback programs.”

NOTE: This blog post is for informational purposes only and is neither intended nor should it be interpreted to be legal advice or opinion.

DWI: Ignition-Lock Device instead of License Suspension? | Toms River Attorney

A bill was approved by the Senate panel on Monday, January 28, 2013, that would make the mandatory installation of ignition-interlock devices the main penalty in most drunk-driving matters rather than license suspension. The bill was advanced by a 12-0 vote, with one abstention.

Under the bill, first-time DUI offenders could continue driving their vehicles as long as the mandated ignition-interlock devices are installed. Ignition interlock devices allow the vehicle to start if the driver produces a clean breath sample. The devices typically require intermittent samples to allow the continued operation of the vehicle as well. Second or subsequent DWI offenders would need a restricted-use license which would allow only work-related or other driving travel set by a judge for at least the first year the interlock device is installed in the offender’s vehicle.

If you’ve been charged with a DWI (also known as Driving Under the Influence, or DUI), you should contact an experienced attorney. The Law Offices of Apicelli & Costanzo provides aggressive representation against all DWI and traffic offenses. We are dedicated to mitigating the adverse consequences posed by DWI and motor vehicle offenses. Our firm has represented many clients that have received traffic summonses in the municipal courts of Toms River, Ocean County, and across the entire State of New Jersey. Contact us, and let us assist you in protecting your rights.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and is neither intended nor should it be interpreted to be legal advice or opinion.

No More Red Light Cameras in New Jersey, citing Accident Increases | Toms River Attorney

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has compiled accident data which shows that red light camera ticketing systems lead to more accidents, more injuries, and greater cost. Although the ultimate goal of red light cameras was to reduce injuries from right-angle crashes which are considered the most dangerous type of collisions which could result from running a red light, Senator Mike Doherty confirmed that both the number and total cost of accidents have increased since the cameras were installed. Senator Doherty is sponsoring Bill S1952 which seeks to repeal the traffic control signal monitoring system pilot program and to prohibit future use of red light cameras in the State of New Jersey.

“Before our pilot program even started, we knew from the experiences of other states that red light cameras are great at generating revenue for the government but are bad at making dangerous intersections safer for drivers,” said Doherty. “It is absolutely no surprise that red light cameras in New Jersey have failed, just as they have everywhere else, in achieving their stated goal of improving driver safety. This complete failure to achieve that primary goal of increasing driver safety should lead to the immediate termination of the red light camera pilot program.”

Twenty-four intersections in New Jersey have had red light cameras in operation for at least one full year. At those intersections, the number of right-angle accidents decreased by 15% (60 to 51), when comparing accident data from the year before the red light cameras were installed. Although this statistic initially seems positive, the severity of right-angle crashes increased, leading to more accidents involving injuries (31 versus 21) and $444,800 in increased cost.

Although the data suggests that the deterrent effect of red light cameras does not prevent right-angle accidents, the deterrent effect of red light cameras does appear to increase the number of rear-end accidents. Rear-end crashes increased by 20% (286 to 343) after red light cameras were installed, which resulted in more injuries (84 versus 74) and $728,000 in increased cost. This is because if drivers are aware of a red light camera at an intersection, they tend to unnecessarily slam on their brakes at yellow lights to avoid getting a ticket for running a red light, resulting in rear-end collisions from vehicles following too closely behind.

Overall, the total number of accidents at the 24 intersections increased from 577 to 582, with a total increased cost of nearly $1.2 million, after red light cameras were installed. The data was released as part of the “Report on Red-Light Traffic Control Signal Monitoring Systems—Second Annual Report” by the NJDOT as required by the law which established the state’s five-year pilot program to determine the effectiveness of red light cameras.

“If the Legislature does not move to immediately terminate the pilot program in light of the new data confirming that cameras make intersections more dangerous, that will be positive proof that the real purpose of red light cameras is to give government another way to reach into your pocket through tickets and fines,” added Doherty. “People across New Jersey should demand that their legislators support an immediate repeal of the red light camera pilot program. Even if your town doesn’t currently have cameras installed as part of the pilot program, they may show up in a few years if you don’t act now.”

What are your thoughts on red light cameras?

There could be many ramifications to appearing in municipal court without first consulting an attorney. It is important that you are fully aware of all of your rights. Our Toms River attorneys take great pride in aggressive representation against all traffic tickets and motor vehicle offenses. Our firm is dedicated to mitigating the adverse consequences posed by motor vehicle offenses, DWI’s (DUI), and traffic tickets. You should consult one of our Toms River lawyers if you are charged with a traffic ticket, motor vehicle, or municipal offense.

New Jersey’s 1st Medical Marijuana Dispensary | Toms River Attorney

Back in January 2010, New Jersey passed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, legislation which allows medical marijuana in the State. New Jersey’s first medical marijuana dispensary, the Greenleaf Alternative Treatment Center in Montclair Township, just received its certificate of occupancy and can now open up its doors.

About 300 patients have either registered with the program or are in the process of completing registration, and about 175 physicians have registered. According to the Department of Health’s website, “[t]he other five Alternative Treatment Centers are in various stages of either finalizing locations or having background examinations completed of the principals of their organizations.” Once a patient or caregiver is approved, their 2-year registration period will begin.

Under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, a registered doctor must diagnose a medical marijuana recipient with a “debilitating medical condition.” So only those with serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, glaucoma and terminal cancer will be able to purchase the cannabis. According to Greenleaf’s business partners, Julio Valentin and Joseph Stevens, Greenleaf will carry 3 varieties of marijuana: weak, medium, and strong. The “legal limit” of THC allowed in the medicinal marijuana is 10%.

Only 17 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to legalize medical marijuana. Those states include: (1) Alaska, (2) Arizona, (3) California, (4) Colorado, (5) Connecticut, (6) Delaware, (7) Hawaii, (8) Maine, (9) Michigan, (10) Montana, (11) Nevada, (12) New Jersey, (13) New Mexico, (14) Oregon, (15) Rhode Island, (16) Vermont, and (17) Washington.

What do you think of medicinal marijuana?

Governor Christie & the Doggie Seat Belt Law | Toms River Attorney

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently stated that he won’t be signing a proposed law that would require drivers to secure their dogs and cats with a harness much like a seat belt while driving. Governor Christie believes that lawmakers are wasting their time considering the proposal while what the State of New Jersey really needs is tax cuts, ethics reforms, and a boost in revenue and employment rates.

This reminds me of how everyone reacted when they realized that the United States Congress was holding hearings on professional baseball and the use of steroids. Don’t you think the State of New Jersey (and the United States Congress) might have better things to do with its time? Governor Christie said that he can’t believe that the State is wasting its time considering such a law. “This will tell you everything you need to know about how New Jersey runs under the Democrats,” said Christie on a local radio show.

The proposed bill is supported by Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, a Newark Democrat who apparently owns a Pomeranian named A.J., five cats, and a rabbit. Violators of the law would receive a $25.00 ticket which could escalate to even higher fines. Christie said that if this law gets past the Legislature, he would not put his name anywhere near it.

Assemblywoman Spencer, a liability-law attorney, said the problem she seeks to eliminate is a big-ticket issue compared to driving distractions such as texting, talking on your phone, and recalculating your GPS while driving. I can see where Governor Christie is coming from, though. Don’t cats always land on their feet? And don’t dogs like hanging their head out the window and feeling the wind blasting them in the face? A seat belt would hinder them from doing these things. I guess both points of view should be given equal weight.

What do you think?

New Jersey Law Banning Replacement Referees | Toms River Attorney

Should New Jersey implement a law that bans replacement referees in professional sports? Any NFL fan knows that the NFL’s experienced union referees have been locked out by the league’s owners since June of this year. Lawmakers and NFL fans alike have called for such a law prohibiting fill-in refs citing reasons such as increased risk of player injuries to over $300 million lost in bets because of the purportedly botched call during the Green Bay Packers’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks and even disgruntled Fantasy Football owners (such as myself).

“This past weekend… the NFL has not only made a mockery of a great sport, but shined a very bright light on how important fully trained and professional officiating is to player safety,” said State Senate President Steve Sweeney, according to the Bergen Record. “We wouldn’t allow a factory or construction site to operate without fully trained supervisors on hand to ensure the safety of employees. Why should we do anything differently when the job site is a playing field?” Sweeney’s other concern is that the fans don’t get their money’s worth when the outcome of an important game hinges on the thought process of a referee who might only have experience in the lower levels of Division II and III college football.

Is this a good idea? Or should New Jersey State Legislators keep their hands out the professional sports cookie jar?

What do you think?

The “Jersey Shore” Snookiville Law: New Jersey Bill A-3273

In the last few years, reality TV has seen a spike in ratings from filming drunken stars and the shenanigans that stem from their impetuous non-sobriety. A new law proposed in New Jersey could give towns more say when it comes to regulating the sometimes unpleasant effects of those events.

The Snookiville Law, Bill A-3273, was named for Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, star of MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” The legislation would permit towns to regulate production and filming of reality television shows and impose fees and conditions on crews for additional police surveillance and presence during filming.

The cast of the “Jersey Shore” were involved in scuffles and fights while usually in an inebriated condition during their stint in Seaside Heights. Law enforcement routinely was called to the boardwalk while the show was taping. The Borough of Seaside Heights made its own arrangements with the show’s producers to cover the costs associated with bringing more police officers to the scene.

“New Jersey has a tradition of being a desirable location for reality TV shows such as ‘Jersey Shore,’ ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’ and ‘Cake Boss,’” New Jersey assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R), who introduced the bill, said. “These shows can attract crowds, which can benefit local businesses and challenge a community’s resources.” Dancer says the bill “will permit local officials to make sure taxpayers don’t get ‘Snook’-ered or public safety is compromised.”

“It’s designed to provide towns with an option. It’s not a mandate, but an option,” Dancer said. “For a local municipal to license filming as a special event, we can better manage and plan to prevent poor situations, such as crowds, traffic congestion and drunkenness.”

“Reality TV can be an asset to a host community, as long as we remember that these shows may cost taxpayers money by requiring additional services when cameras are rolling in town,” Dancer said.

Snooki and co-star Jennifer “JWoww” Farley have been filming their own series in Manchester, a few miles west of Seaside Heights. There have been no reported problems with the filming to date.

Dancer says he hopes the law will go into effect by the end of 2012. Do you think this is a good idea?