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Committee Advances Legislation to Allow All Persons to Apply for Driver’s Licenses

Trenton – Legislation that would create a two-category system for New Jersey issued licenses and identification cards passed the Senate Transportation Committee today.


The bill, S-3229, was sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale, Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Nilsa Cruz- Perez and Chair of the Hispanic Legislative Caucus Senator Nellie Pou.


The two categories of basic driver’s licenses, motorcycle licenses, probationary licenses, and non-driver identification cards are as follows:


1) Standard License: would require proof of residency in New Jersey, proof of age, and their social security number. If the individual does not have a social security number, the bill would permit them to submit their individual Tax Identification Number (“ITIN”), or indicate that they are ineligible for a social security number in a manner prescribed the Motor Vehicle Commission (“MVC”).

2) REAL ID License: would require proof of residency in New Jersey, proof of age, proof of the applicant’s social security number and proof that the applicant’s presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. Most significantly, a REAL ID would comply with the federal “REAL ID Act of 2005” (“REAL ID Act”). The REAL ID Act requires applicants to submit more documentation than is currently required to obtain a driver’s license in New Jersey. New Jersey driver’s licenses would be required to meet the requirements set by the Act to be accepted for any federal “official purpose,” such as accessing federal government facilities or boarding domestic flights. The federal Act also requires the MVC to store copies or scanned images of the personal documents applicants submit for a period of 7-10 years.


“This legislation has been years in the making and I want to thank the support, advocacy and patience of everyone who has worked so hard to get us to this point,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “For many areas of New Jersey, taking public transportation to school, work or the grocery store is not an option and therefore, whether legally or not, people are driving on the roads. This bill is going to increase the number of drivers eligible for testing, training and insurance which will help hold down insurance premiums and most importantly, make our roadways safer.”


“This legislation is going to be life changing for hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans. There are 168,000 children with undocumented parents in New Jersey and over 400,000 undocumented immigrants of driving age. They are mothers and fathers striving to make a better life for their children. They have jobs to get to, children to drop off and pick up, and errands to run,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Like anyone else, they need to be able to get around. Today’s bill to provide them access to driver’s licenses will reduce their chances of encountering legal troubles while trying to make a living, while also making the roads safer for all New Jerseyans.”


“This legislation breaks down barriers that have held back hardworking men and women trying to provide for their families, trying to ensure financial security and stability for tomorrow, and just simply trying to provide opportunities to their children that were not afforded to them,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Getting behind the wheel is a privilege that is often an afterthought in the commonality of our daily lives, but for undocumented immigrants residing in New Jersey, access to the roadways is a path to opportunities and an improved quality of life.”


“Today we take a very important step to ensure greater safety on New Jersey’s roads for all of New Jersey’s residents as well as address an issue that will immediately impact the quality of life of over half a million tax paying and contributing residents of our state,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Through this legislation and regulatory approach, we will make our roads safer and boost our economy but more importantly, we will provide for a fair mechanism to empowering all communities here in New Jersey.”


Under the bill, any documents and personal information obtained by the MVC from an applicant for a standard license or identification card is confidential and is not to be considered a government record.


The bill was released from committee with a vote of 5-2.