New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
The bill will allow those living in New Jersey who are unable to prove they are legal residents to obtain permits, “standard” driver’s licenses, and “Real ID” cards. The measure was passed by the state legislature this week.
“Expanding access to driver’s licenses is critical for the safety of New Jerseyans and a step toward building a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all,” the governor said in a statement. “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.”
The new type of license for undocumented residents will be available by January, 2021 at the latest. The documentation required to obtain the licenses is yet to be determined, but applicants will have to prove their identity, age, and residency in New Jersey. Applicants will not be allowed to obtain a commercial driver’s license or drive school buses.
The bill also mandates that New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission must provide translators for applicants who do not speak English.
MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton said granting driver’s license to undocumented immigrants will also help prevent the “break-up of families.”
“Those who pass our driver testing and meet our strict identity requirements will be able to drive to work, school, doctor’s appointments, and other activities, without risking the break-up of their families,” she said.
The bill makes New Jersey the 14th state to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. New York’s law granting the licenses went into effect this week after a legal challenge fell flat.