New Jersey has become the 14th state to allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses. It joins California, New York, Utah, and other states in allowing people of any immigration status the ability to drive. According to a 2018 study, about half a million undocumented people are of driving age. Another study found that unlicensed drivers are more likely to flee the scene of an accident. In his remarks following the signing of the bill, Governor Phil Murphy said expanding drivers' licenses to include undocumented people will reduce the number of uninsured drivers and make the roads safer for others.
As Motor Vehicle Commissioner Sue Fulton said, “In my view our roads are safer when our drivers are trained, tested, licensed, and insured.”
A New License Available to People of All Immigration Statuses
The bill creates two different kinds of identification or drivers' licenses: REAL ID, which is only available if you’re documented, and the standard license, which is available to everyone. Everyone who applies for a driver's license will still need to provide six points of identification, including proof of identity, age, and residency.
The Motor Vehicle Commission will be overseeing the implementation of the new bill and the issuing of the REAL ID and standard licenses. The agency will reportedly work with embassies and consulates to ensure applicant documents are legitimate. Road tests may be waived if the applicant has a valid licenses from another country or state.
To prevent people with standard licenses from unfair treatment, insurance companies will be forbidden from charging a driver more money for having a standard license. It also prohibits housing or employment discrimination based on the type of license a resident has.
To apply, residents will still need to provide documents like a passport, birth certificate, utility bills, and/or bank statements. However, those concerned about revealing their undocumented status need not worry: the bill promises that any documents used to apply for a drivers’ license will remain confidential.
The law will go into effect in January 2021.