New Jersey has over 500,000 undocumented immigrants working and living by our side. Other states have already taken the steps to ensuring that their communities adjust to these demographic shifts by passing policies that will ensure the safety and harmony of all.
One of these policies is the legislation that would expand access to driver licenses to undocumented New Jerseyans in our communities. By passing this policy, New Jersey will join 12 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally. Communities across our state have already taken a stand, including 12 municipalities and 4 counties that have passed resolutions in support of this law.
In addition to being a common-sense policy, passing the bill will yield a range of tangible benefits for all New Jerseyans, including:
- Safer roads by increasing the percentage of drivers who learn state traffic laws, pass a driving test, and take out car insurance coverage, which will likely reduce the number of traffic accidents on New Jersey roads.
- New Jersey would see about $209 million in new insurance payments. A larger pool of licensed and insured motorists should help to lower costs to car insurance providers and allow for reduced car insurance premiums for drivers across the state.
- Depending on the license fee set for these newly eligible applicants, New Jersey could expect anywhere between $5.2 million and $11.1 million in new revenue from these fees.
Allowing all residents, regardless of immigration status, to be tested, licensed and insured would create a safer New Jersey and allow its residents to engage more in the economic, social and cultural life of the state.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Is there a current bill that will allow for All Eligible New Jerseyans to Drive?
A: Yes, A4425/S2925, legislation was introduced by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20) and Senator Joseph Vitale (D-19) in May 2015, would expand access to New Jersey driver licenses to qualified drivers who currently are unable to obtain a license due solely to their immigration status. The legislation requires applicants to provide extensive documentary proof of identity, date of birth, and residency in New Jersey, in addition to passing all appropriate examinations for driving qualifications.
Q: How will expanding access to driver licenses impact public safety and crime-fighting?
A: Expanding access to driver’s license to all eligible New Jerseyans will increase public safety and help to fight crimes in the following ways:
- Strengthening cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
- By granting access to an identification card, immigrant New Jerseyans will be more comfortable speaking with law enforcement to report crimes, serving as witnesses in criminal investigations, and providing expanded community ties to law enforcement. Bringing immigrants out of the shadows and including them in official state databases helps to strengthen crime-fighting and public safety.
- Police will be able to hold motorist accountable for driving record.
- Limited court time and jail space will be less burdened with cases of drivers who are there solely for driving without a license or insurance.
Q: How will expanding access to driver licenses make New Jersey’s roads safer?
- More New Jerseyans would be tested, trained, insured, and held accountable for their driving record.
- Health Care Providers would be able to use the license to identify the individuals they are assisting and possible serve less people due to car accidents because more people will be tested
- Drivers will be more likely to stay at the scene of an accident to aid police. Unlicensed and uninsured individuals take more risks when driving than others: unlicensed drivers are five times more likely to be in a fatal crash and nearly 10 times more likely to leave an accident scene as licensed drivers. Largely this is because one cannot purchase auto insurance without a driver’s license.
- More likely to exchange insurance information in traffic accidents
Q: What impact will expanding access to driver’s licenses have on New Jersey’s economy?
A: Expanding access to driver’s licenses would provide a much-needed boost to New Jersey’s economy. New Jersey Policy Perspective estimates that if A4425/S2925 became law, insurance companies would take in over $200 million in additional premiums per year, saving money for existing policyholders and reducing the number of claims against uninsured drivers.
Premiums will go down, NJ has the most expensive insurance adding more to the pool would like result in lower premiums for ALL in NJ.
The State of New Jersey would take in millions in new revenue from fees paid by new driver’s license applicants and license renewals. Further, local economies throughout the state would be bolstered by strengthening the mobility of New Jersey’s workforce and integrating immigrant communities into the broader New Jersey economy,
In 2012, 10.3 percent of New Jersey motorists were uninsured, higher than our neighboring states of New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Statistics show that allowing undocumented residents to drive legally reduces the share of uninsured drivers in the state.
Q: Do any other states permit undocumented residents to obtain driver licenses?
A: Yes. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington, Utah, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. all do not prohibit access to driver’s licenses based on immigration status.
Q: Will A4425/S2925 allow undocumented immigrants to access public benefits?
A: No. Access to a New Jersey driver’s license demonstrates qualifications for operating a motor vehicle and serves as a state-issued form of identification. A license-holder would be permitted to use the license for any identification purpose that a current driver’s license can be used for. It does not create new eligibility for public benefits such as Medicaid or Food Stamps (SNAP). A driver’s license is not a proof of one’s immigration status, nor does it alter an individual’s immigration status.
Q: Will the driver license created under A4425/S2925 appear the same as current driver licenses?
A: Mostly. The driver license created under A4425/S2925 would include the language “Federal Limits May Apply” written on the front of the license, indicating that the license may not lawfully be used for federal identification purposes, this design has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security since California has similar design.
Q: Will undocumented immigrants be allowed to board airplanes using the licenses created under A4425/S2925?
A: No. These driver licenses will only be permitted to be used for local, New Jersey driving and identification purposes. They will not be recognized for identification purposes for boarding airplanes or certain other federal purposes.
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