Expanding Eligibility for Driver's Licenses and State Identifications to More Qualified Residents
Let's Drive NJ brings together over eighty community, faith, labor, social service, and advocacy organizations to push to expand access to driver's licenses in the Garden State. Too often, otherwise qualified drivers face barriers to obtaining a license -- vulnerable populations like undocumented immigrants, survivors of violence, transgender individuals and senior citizens are particularly impacted. In December 2019, New Jersey became the 15th state to expand access to driver's licenses to qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status. New Jersey joins fourteen other states and D.C that have implemented similar measures. It is expected New Jersey will see an increase in public safety, increase in revenues to state and local economies, and increase the well-being of all families – particularly the hundreds of thousands who will gain access to a driver's license. More information on this common-sense proposal here. Read the legislation here.
Governor Murphy signed the legislation on December 19, 2019! The legislation is now the law and will be implemented by the Motor Vehicles Commission, timeline to be determined.
A4743/S3229 PASSES BOTH SENATE and ASSEMBLY on December 16, 2019! Please thank legislators who voted YES!
The expansion for driver's licenses to all has not been implemented, the Motor Vehicles Commission (MVC) has to first announce a date when the new potential drivers can start applying. The legislation notes that the MVC has up to 13 months to implement (January 19th, 2021).
The list of documents required for new drivers under this expansion is not yet available. The Let's Drive NJ Campaign will post updates, including on our social media when we have the list. The MVC has noted that the documents and point system will require people to proof their identity, their age, and that they reside in New Jersey. Please check the MVC for more information.
The new expansion of licenses to all only applies to the standard licenses, which will be available to all who qualify regardless of immigration status. The Real ID license is one that will require proof of status, as well as the other requirements listed above. The Real ID license is designated be eligible to board airplanes and enter federal facilities, which will not be possible with a standard license. More information at https://realidnj.com/.
While we wait for the implementation date, you can start preparing by studying the driver's manual.
Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants are estimated to live in New Jersey. These immigrants make critical contributions to our state, including an estimated $476 million in state and local taxes per year, but often live in fear and face barriers to meeting their families’ basic needs because they lack driver’s licenses and/or government-issued ID.
In New Jersey, driving is a necessity of life, but for immigrant families, driving to work or to dropping one’s children at school can lead to deportation. Permitting all New Jerseyans who are qualified and eligible to drive—regardless of immigration status— to apply for driver’s licenses would make New Jersey’s roads and highways safer, strengthen our economy and increase the wellbeing of our families.
New Jersey has the third-largest percentage of immigrants in the nation. It is the 15th state permit undocumented immigrant residents to apply for driver’s licenses. According to New Jersey Policy Perspective, about 464,000 of New Jersey’s estimated 525,000 undocumented residents stand to benefit from a change in the state’s policy on driver licenses.
Undocumented New Jerseyans face barriers to accessing government-issued ID to present to the police, open bank accounts, enter their children’s schools, or report a crime. State identification cards currently requires the same documentation as driver’s licenses, limiting many people, immigrants and non-immigrants, from obtaining a government-issued identification. A diverse number of New Jersey municipalities, including Elizabeth, Newark, Roselle, Dover, Perth Amboy, Paterson, Union City, and Plainfield have established successful and popular municipal ID programs, —in fact, New Jersey has the most municipal ID programs of any state in the country, an indicator of the need for this to be addressed at the state level.
NJAIJ thanks the NJ state legislature for expanding access to driver’s licenses and state identification card to all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status, and looks forward to ensuring strong privacy protections of cardholders’ personal information. This measure will increase public safety by making our roads safer and strengthen community engagement by providing residents with the ability to interact with state and local law enforcement.
Find out more about the Let's Drive NJ campaign here.