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Sara's Law will create next-of-kin registry in New Jersey

On September 24, 2007, Betty and Vic Dubinen received a call from a friend of their daughter, Sara, asking how Sara was faring after her car accident. Not knowing what the friend was talking about, the Dubinens called the police department and local hospitals. They soon learned that Sara had been in a serious car accident, that she was in critical condition, and that hospital staff had been trying to locate her parents for over an hour.

By the time the Dubinens arrived, 90 minutes after their daughter had been brought in to the hospital, Sara had fallen into a coma. She never woke up from her coma, and died the next morning.

Following her daughter's death, Betty Dubinen began an initiative to create a statewide next-of-kin registry, aiming to simplify and speed up the notification of family members following car or other accidents that result in serious injury. Last month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed Sara's Law.

The law gives anyone with a New Jersey's driver's license or identification card the option of submitting the name and telephone number of an emergency contact to the state Motor Vehicle Commission. If that person is then seriously injured or killed in an accident, medical personnel would use the registry to quickly locate their emergency contact.

In addition, the law lowers the age limit for non-driver identification cards from 17 to 14, which will allow younger teenagers to similarly designate an emergency contact. Parental consent is required for that age group.

The law will take effect in 18 months, coinciding with a planned upgrade of the Motor Vehicle Commission computer system.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Source: Tri-Town News, "Christie signs Sara's Law, honoring Sayreville teen", Brian Donahue, 3 May 2011

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