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Legislation Creating Two Tiers of Drivers’ Licenses Introduced In Senate & Assembly

TRENTON – Legislation that would create a federally-compliant Real ID license as well as a “standard” driver’s license for certain residents including senior citizens, undocumented immigrants and others who lack documentation, has been introduced in both the Senate and Assembly. Sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, the bills would address the state’s obligation to create a secure, government-issued license under the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.

“We can’t ignore the reality that undocumented immigrants are on the roads now, going to work, driving their children to school and doing the routine activities that all families do,” said Senator Vitale. “If they don’t have a driver’s license, don’t have insurance and are driving a vehicle that isn’t registered, it creates a hazard on the road. If you get in an accident with them, the damage may not be covered. This will improve roadway safety, be good for the economy and allow undocumented residents to support themselves and their families.”

“Today marks a pivotal point in the work we have done over the last five years to make New Jersey’s roads safer,” said Assemblywoman Quijano. “New Jersey will join the ranks of 12 other states creating a fair process for all of the residents of New Jersey.”

The Senate bill, S.3442, is cosponsored by Senator Joe Cryan, Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Nellie Pou. The Assembly bill, A.4743, is cosponsored by Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle and Assemblyman Joe Danielsen. Both measures were introduced in their respective houses on Monday.

Once enacted, New Jersey would join 12 other states and the District of Columbia in extending driving privileges to undocumented immigrants. The standard license would have a different design or color to set it apart from the REAL ID license. This license could not be used for official purposes, such as flying commercially, voting or entering federal facilities such as nuclear plants. Both types of licenses require proof of age as well as two documents showing proof of residency in New Jersey. Applicants for the REAL ID license also have to provide their Social Security number.

New Jersey received an extension until Oct. 10, 2019, to comply with the federal Real ID law.

Applicants for either license would need to pass the driving exam and obtain car insurance if they are driving a vehicle. The bill also proposes offering exams in English and the next three most popular languages in the state. The chief administrator would be required to confirm every five years what those three languages are. Under the bill, applicants would need to pay $18 for a standard card (or $7 for applicants age 70 or older) and $29 for a REAL ID card ($14.50 for applicants age 70 or older). Homeless people would be eligible for a fee waiver if they submit proof of temporary residence through a social worker or the coordinator of an emergency shelter.

Under the bill, all license holders would have to obtain car insurance. The bill proposes barring insurance companies from increasing rates for motorists solely on the basis of obtaining a standard license, rather than a REAL ID license. Under the legislation, any person that knowingly discloses any documents or personal information that is false would be subject to a crime in the fourth degree, which would include a fine of up to $500 or jail time, and a ban of 180 days from getting a license.

The bill would create an 11-person advisory board, appointed by the governor and state majority leaders, to review the law’s implementation which would end after one year.