Frequently Asked Questions about Let's Drive NJ Campaign

 

  

Is there a current bill that will allow for all qualified New Jerseyans to obtain a driver’s license without regard to immigration status?

A:

Yes, legislation (A1738) introduced by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20) in 2018 would expand access to state-purpose only New Jersey driver’s licenses to qualified drivers who currently are unable to obtain a license because they cannot meet current documentation requirements. The legislation requires applicants to provide extensive documentary proof of identity, date of birth, and residency in New Jersey, in addition to passing the road test.

How will expanding access to driver’s licenses make New Jersey’s roads safer?

A:

More New Jersey drivers will be tested, trained, insured, and held accountable for their driving record.

Licensed drivers will be more likely to stay at the scene of an accident to aid police and  more likely to exchange insurance information in traffic accidents.

How will expanding access to driver’s licenses impact public safety?

A:

Expanding access to driver’s licenses to more qualified New Jersey drivers will increase public safety in the following ways:

  • Strengthening cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement:
    • By granting access to a state-issued identification card, immigrant New Jerseyans will be more comfortable interacting with law enforcement, including reporting crimes serving as witnesses in criminal investigations..
  • When more motorists are registered and licensed, law enforcement will be able to hold more motorists accountable for their driving records.
  • New Jersey municipal courts and jails will be less burdened by cases of individuals who are charged with driving without a license or insurance.
  • Utah, New Mexico, and Washington state for example have seen lower fatal accidents after expansion of access to driver’s licenses.

What impact will the expansion of 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 insurance companies would take in about $233 million in additional premiums each year, reducing the number of claims against uninsured drivers.
  • Although many factors contribute to insurance cost, having more insured cars would benefit everyone as those with insurance won't have to pick up the bill for those that don't have their car insured.
  • The State of New Jersey would also take in $11.7 millions dollars 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 diverse communities into the New Jersey economy.

Do any other states permit all residents, regardless of status, to obtain driver’s licenses?

A:

Yes. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington, Utah, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. grant otherwise qualified residents the opportunity to drive legally regardless of immigration status.

Will this policy allow all New Jersey residents access to 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 proof of one’s immigration status, nor does it alter an individual’s immigration status.

Will the driver’s license created under this policy appear the same as current driver’s licenses?

A:

The driver’s license created under this policy will include“Federal Limits May Apply” language on the license and a few additional demarcations to comply with the REAL ID Act to indicate that the license may not lawfully be used for federal identification purposes. A similar design in California has approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

Will all New Jerseyans, regardless of status, be allowed to board airplanes using the licenses created under this policy?

A:

No. These new driver’s licenses will only serve for driving and identification purposes. They will not be recognized for identification purposes for boarding airplanes, employment, and  other federal purposes.

Can the MVC share my info with the federal government or immigration authorities?

A:

Yes. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enjoys access to Nlets, or National Law Enforcement Telecommunications Systems. Nlets is an information network which all 50 states contribute information to that ICE may access to obtain certain information, such as a person’s basic identity and physical characteristics, provided in driver’s license applications as well as in subsequent driver history (e.g., records of accidents and traffic offenses). ICE denies using MVC data to generate immigration targets or ascertain alienage. Still, we know from anecdotal evidence that ICE agents have used Nlets primarily to locate individuals through their address.  In some states, ICE has MOUs (Memorandums of Understanding) with state MVCs and has also obtained information through informal partnerships with MVC employees.

Is the proposed license compliant with the federal REAL ID act?

A:

Yes. The federal REAL ID Act permits states to issue state purpose-only licenses with different eligibility guidelines, but imposes additional requirements meant to ensure that they have a distinct appearance from federal purpose IDs. State purpose only licenses must contain a disclaimer indicating that the license is not accepted for federal purposes. The proposed legislation meets the requirements of the REAL ID Act.