Legislation has been introduced in both chambers of the New Jersey State Legislature that would grant driving privileges to undocumented aliens residing in the state. Governor Phil Murphy supports the legislation and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has begun preparing to enact the measure if and when the bill is signed into law.
The New Jersey Safe and Responsible Driver Act requires the production of proof of identity and of residence in New Jersey. The bill also requires that all persons issued a drivers license under these provisions carry automobile insurance. Moreover, drivers licenses issued under the Act will bear the words, “This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits,” making it clear that the document is for driving privileges only in the State of New Jersey. The bill addresses concerns related to privacy and potential negative immigration consequences, stating that the “information provided by the license holder is not to be considered a public record and is not to be disclosed to any federal, State, or local governmental entity without probable cause or a valid warrant. The bill also provides that a driver’s license issued under the provisions of the bill is not to be considered evidence of an individual’s citizenship or immigration status and is not to be used as a basis for an investigation, arrest, citation, or detention.” (emphasis added).
Those who support the measure say it will increase road safety because new licensed drivers will have to pass a drivers test and be insured. They argue that undocumented immigrants drive anyway, only without a license, which increases the danger to themselves and fellow drivers.
If the Act passes New Jersey will join California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia in issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. For more information about the New Jersey Safe and Responsible Driver Act or other benefits for immigrants in New Jersey, contact the Law Office of Gregory J. Eck, Esq.