Governor Phil Murphy has signed a new law (A4743) to expand access to NJ driver’s licenses. The bill give more residents of the garden state the opportunity to earn a license while decreasing the number of uninsured drivers on the road, improving safety. New Jersey joins thirteen other states including California, New York, and the District of Columbia, in allowing residents to obtain a driver’s license regardless of immigration status.
Safer, fairer roads for all
“Expanding access to NJ driver’s licenses is critical for the safety of New Jerseyans and a step toward building a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all,” said Governor Murphy. “Allowing residents the opportunity to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status will decrease the number of uninsured drivers and increase safety on our roads. I thank my partners in the Legislature for sending this important bill to my desk.
The bill will create two categories of NJ driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards: federally compliant REAL ID, which is only available for documented residents, and the NJ Standard Basic driver’s license and ID, which will be available to all New Jersey residents, regardless of immigration status. The bill also ensures that those who hold a Standard Basic driver’s license are treated fairly, prohibiting insurance companies from charging a driver more for having a Standard Basic license and prohibiting employment, housing, and public-accommodation discrimination against an individual for holding a Standard Basic driver’s license or ID.
The bill will also require the Chief Administrator of Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to establish a two year public awareness campaign to inform the public about the availability of and the requirements to obtain a Standard Basic License or REAL ID. The bill also creates an 11-member advisory board to review the MVC’s implementation of the bill and the issuance of Standard Basic and REAL ID driver’s licenses, with a report for the Board to be issued to the Governor and Legislature containing its findings and recommendations no later than 12 months following the bill’s effective date, which is January 1, 2021.
Latino community celebrates huge win
This bill is a huge win for the Latino community and is the culmination of over fifteen years of struggle for this legislation. Since the passing of the bill there has been an outpouring of responses in support of it.
“It is incredible to imagine the impact it will have on the 168,000 children with undocumented parents and over 400,000 undocumented immigrants of driving age,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz. “These are mothers and fathers striving to make a better life for their children. It is extremely difficult to navigate this state without a car and like every New Jerseyan, they have jobs to get to, children to drop off at school and lives to live. Not only will this law make our roads safer, it will also positively impact our economy and workforce. Other states that have approved similar legislation have seen a significant decrease in car insurance premiums and hit-and-run accidents. We expect to see the same he
“Since the founding of the Latino Action Network in 2009, this has been our number one legislative priority,” said Christian Estevez, President of LAN. “”Governor Murphy’s signing of this bill is a landmark moment for our community and the entire state of New Jersey. It makes our state, a more humane and safe place to live. The coming together of a wide range of constituencies made this possible. It challenges the tone of intolerance set by President Trump at the national level.”
“As the 15th state to pass this legislation, we are shouting from the rooftops that immigrants are welcome in New Jersey,” said Adriana Abizadeh, Executive Director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF). “As an organization focused on the inclusion of immigrants in this state, I am heartened by the progress we have made. It doesn’t stop here. We will continue to tackle inequalities through policy for some of the most vulnerable among us. ¡Si se pudo!”
This bill will undoubtedly change the lives of thousands of New Jersey residents, affording immigrants the means to access educational and job opportunities and gain greater mobility in their everyday lives while also ensuring road safety.
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Margarita Rodriguez, a member of Make the Road New Jersey, knows first-hand the struggle of navigating New Jersey without a license. As a mother, she has at times had to take three buses just to take her son to the doctor and to school. “My life will change now that I can have access to a NJ driver’s license,” she said. “This victory belongs to immigrant brothers and sisters from across New Jersey who have fought so hard for so many years to be able to drive, and for the respect and dignity we deserve. We thank Governor Murphy, who has stood with our campaign from day one, and to our incredible sponsors, especially Assemblymembers Quijano and Schaer, as well as, Senators Vitale, Ruiz, Cryan, Pou and Cruz-Perez, and to Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin for their leadership.”