Governor Phil Murphy

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Expanding Access to Driver’s Licenses

12/19/2019

ELIZABETH – Governor Phil Murphy today signed a new law (A4743) to expand access to driver’s licenses. The bill will give more New Jersey residents the opportunity to earn a license while decreasing the number of uninsured drivers on the road, improving roadway safety. New Jersey joins thirteen other states, including California, New York, and Utah, and the District of Columbia, in allowing residents to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.

“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,” 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.”

Allowing residents the opportunity to obtain driver's licenses 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.”

“This law allows hundreds of thousands of immigrants on our roads to be trained, tested, licensed and insured,’’ said Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. “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.’’

"Studies have shown that similar legislation in other states has had positive results for public and highway traffic safety and we look forward to similar benefits here in New Jersey," said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan.

“For many residents, access to a driver’s license will mean access to educational and job opportunities that will allow them to enhance their families’ lives. It will also mean access to auto insurance, which will reduce the number of uninsured in our state and create safer roadways for all of New Jersey. I want to thank the Governor and Legislature for their support and effort on taking a bold step that once again demonstrates that New Jersey is a leader on issues of social and economic justice that are vital to our residents, and to ensuring the success of our state,” said Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride.

The bill creates two categories of driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards: federally-compliant REAL ID, which is only available for documented residents, and the Standard Basic driver’s license and ID, which will be available to all New Jersey residents regardless of immigration status. Anyone who applies for a Standard Basic driver’s license or ID, whether a citizen or non-citizen, must provide six points of identification. 

Further, the bill ensures that those who hold a Standard Basic driver’s license are treated fairly. The bill prohibits insurance companies from charging a driver more for having a Standard Basic driver’s license, and prohibits employment, housing, and public-accommodation discrimination against an individual for holding a Standard Basic driver’s license or ID.

 The bill also requires 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. A report from the Board will 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.

"Ensuring all eligible New Jersey residents have access to greater independence with a driver's license or identification card, in the wake of Real IDs also posing affordability and access concerns, required a keen attention to detail,” said Assemblymembers Annette Quijano, Raj Mukherji, Gary Schaer, Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Joe Danielsen. “The main purpose was to ensure safer roads and more insured drivers in New Jersey. We have created a pathway for a New Jersey resident to acquire a driver’s license, register their vehicle and insure their vehicle thus making for safer roads for all. We know this legislation will change thousands of lives in the Garden State, a state with both urban, suburban and rural communities that require residents to drive a car to get from point A to point B. This bill has always been, first and foremost, about safety. We’re proud to have sponsored the bill and we look forward to it being signed into law.”

“Everyone benefits from safer roads,” said Senator Joseph Vitale. “When more people are able to be trained, tested and buy insurance, it reduces risk for everyone. This legislation, now law, is not only the right thing to do for our residents, it is the responsible thing to do for our state.”

“This legislation is going to be life-changing for thousands of families across New Jersey. 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. 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,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz. “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 here.”

“This legislation breaks down barriers that are holding back hardworking men and women trying to ensure their family’s financial security and provide opportunities to their children that were not afforded to them,” said Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez. “Getting behind the wheel is a privilege that is often assumed in the commonality of our daily lives, but for the undocumented community residing in New Jersey, access to the roadways offers is a path to new opportunities and an improved quality of life. This law will be transformative for families across the state.”

“This is a historic day, and I am grateful to everyone who has advocated and fought for this law, without their dedication, persistence and patience this would never have become a reality. Not only will this make our roadways safer, it is going to immediately impact the quality of life of over half a million tax paying and contributing residents of our state,” said Senator Nellie Pou. “Through this law and regulatory approach, we will make our roads safer and boost our economy but more importantly, we will provide for a fair mechanism to empowering all communities here in New Jersey.”

“It has been incredible to see the immigrant community organize, mobilize and advocate for this issue,” said Senator Nia Gill. “It is good, common-sense legislation and I look forward to seeing the impact it has on our communities and our economy.”

"This new law will allow residents the opportunity to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status and will keep our roads safe,” said City of Passaic Police Chief Luis A. Guzman

“There are advocates in New Jersey that have been fighting for access to driver's licenses for more than 20 years,” said Adriana Abizadeh, Executive Director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF). “As the 15th state to pass this legislation, we are shouting from the rooftops that immigrants are welcome in New Jersey. 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 inequities through policy for some of the most vulnerable among us. ¡Si se pudo!”

"This is a historic moment for the Latino community of New Jersey, the culmination of 15 years of struggle," said Frank Argote-Freyre, a Latin-American history professor at Kean University and Chair of the Latino Action Network Foundation. "It is the moment when the organizing power of the community reached a new level and I am confident it will be seen as a turning point in the struggle for self-empowerment by generations to come. We are fortunate at this time to also have a Governor willing to show courage in the face of a torrent of anti-immigrant sentiment. His support of our community will be long remembered."

“This is a huge moment for working people who have fought for years to be able to have access to this necessity,” said Kevin Brown, New Jersey State Director and Vice President of SEIU 32BJ.  “Driving is more often than not essential to having and keeping a job in New Jersey, so expanded access to driver’s licenses will fuel our economy, make our streets safer and support at-risk populations who need access. This bill is more than just a license; it’s an opportunity for growth. We are thankful to Governor Murphy and the NJ Legislature for standing up for all New Jerseyans.”

“On this historic day, New Jersey says to hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans without status, you are a part of our state and our communities regardless of your federal immigration status,” said Johanna Calle, director of New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice. “A driver’s license is so much more than a driver’s license, it is a basic form of identification which shows that we are a part of this state and our communities. It brings immigrants out of the shadows. It means that every one of us, regardless of immigration status, belongs. Thank you to the Legislature and Governor Murphy for making New Jersey the 15th state to allow all residents and families to drive safely.” 

"Expanding access to driver’s license is a victory that was won by collective fights of all the community organizations,” said Reynalda Cruz, member of the New Labor. “Having a license is a necessity that will allow individuals to drive to work, school, and doctor’s appointments. New Labor members applaud New Jersey for taking this important step.”

"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."

“Today New Jersey has taken a major step towards a more fair and welcoming state for all of its residents,” said Itzel Hernandez, Immigrant Rights Organizer, American Friends Service Committee. “As the 15th state to sign a similar bill into law, New Jersey is ensuring that we can all enjoy safer roads. Today, we recognize that we all need to be able to get to work, school, take our children to the doctor and other regular tasks as productive members of society. Having tested, licensed and insured drivers is just commonsense legislation. While providing an economic boost for the state, it will also allow us to treat our neighbors with dignity and respect.  We are thrilled to be part of this key moment for immigrant justice.”

"I would like to thank Governor Phil Murphy for doing the right thing. It sounds foolish, but just look around the country. How many people in positions of power that do the wrong thing over and over,” said Brian Lozano, Lead Organizer and Advocacy Coordinator of Wind of the Spirit. “Thank you for opening the door to undocumented immigrant communities and helping our communities reclaim their dignity.”

“This law sends a clear message to the nation that New Jersey values the dignity of every resident, regardless of their immigration status or where they were born,” said Erika Nava, Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). “Driver’s license expansion, more than any other policy, will immediately boost the mobility and economic opportunity of mixed-status households in every corner of the state. Allowing all residents to legally drive will also ensure everyone on the road is properly trained, tested, and insured, making roads safer for all.”

"Today, after years of struggle, immigrants made history in New Jersey. As a mother who has taken three buses to take my son to the doctor and to school, my life will change now that I can have access to a driver's license,” said Margarita Rodriguez, member of Make the Road New Jersey. “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."

“Now that the law will expand access to driver’s licenses to all New Jersey residents regardless of immigration status, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans will be able to move more freely and live with less fear,” said Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the ACLU-NJ. “It will surely improve public safety, increase civic participation, and strengthen our economy. We could not have gotten here without the leadership of Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Senator Joseph Vitale, along with Senate President Steve Sweeney, Speaker Craig Coughlin, and Governor Murphy.  Above all, we thank the tireless activists and fearless community members who have for years dedicated themselves to the causes of fairness, justice, and equality – this monumental achievement belongs to them, and to all New Jerseyans.”

"This is an especially gratifying moment not only for the state, but for the many organizers and leaders within our organization that have dedicated their time and energy to this cause,” said Charlene Walker, Executive Director of Faith in New Jersey. “We focus heavily on protecting the rights and needs of the most vulnerable, and this measure opens up a whole new door for thousands of individuals that have had to risk driving without a license or insurance, having to rely on public transportation, or having to walk miles to get to work. Having a license is a demonstration of inclusion and the state’s way of recognizing that one is responsible enough to handle such a privilege that many of us take for granted."