New Jersey Town Will Fine Non-Residents $200 For Driving On Roads

New York City commuters better be careful not to take a wrong turn passing by Leonia, New Jersey, or they might end up with a $200 traffic fine.

Leonia, a New Jersey town that is unfortunately situated directly west of New York City, is fed up with traffic apps that redirect commuters through the town and will now fine you up to $200 for driving through it. 

Commuters who head into New York City often face severe traffic and use traffic apps, such as Google Maps and Waze, to help reroute them. Leonia sits near the entrance of the George Washington Bridge, which leads directly into Manhattan and the Bronx, and therefore sees heavy numbers of commuters driving through the town to access the bridge. 

"We have a lot of vehicles that leave the highway to the bridge and use Leonia as a bypass or to cut through up to Fort Lee," Leonia Police Chief Thomas Rowe explained. "This is a public safety issue."

In an attempt to control the heavy traffic, the town adopted a new ordinance in November that places a ban on non-Leonia residents from driving through the town simply as a way to avoid traffic. 

The exact ban on commuters is from 6-10 a.m. and 4-9 p.m. on weekdays, which covers the times in which traffic is heaviest. 

The ban becomes a little tricky however, as many people are wondering what to do if they want to shop or visit friends in the area during those times.

In order to gain access to the roads, a driver will be required to prove the residential status or provide documents showing the need to access a residence within the town.

Residents or workers of the town will be provided a bright yellow tag that will be hung on the rearview mirror in order to differentiate who is allowed road access and who is not. 

Unsurprisingly, the ordinance has drawn quite a bit of criticism from surrounding towns and commuter drivers who claim it is both discriminatory and intrusive.

"This plan gives enormous power to police officers. People who are traveling safely down the street should not be subject to law enforcement. It's intrusive," said Jeanne LoCicero, deputy legal director of the ACLU-NJ chapter. "It's hard to imagine that Leonia could enforce this in a way that didn't discriminate."

Questions of the ban's legality have also been raised. The mayor of the town has assured everyone that it is indeed legal, albeit a fairly intense form of traffic control.

It is slightly difficult to imagine how successful Leonia will be at enforcing this, especially considering this may make traffic in other surrounding areas worse. But if Leonia officials truly think the issue is as dire as it is, action clearly needs to be taken. Just how effective these corrective actions will be, however, remains to be seen. 

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