Fast Facts: Allowing Undocumented Residents to Drive Legally Would Help New Jersey

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drivers-license-map-0715updated-01Everyone in New Jersey would benefit from legislation that would ensure the state’s undocumented immigrants are tested, trained, licensed and insured drivers – and accountable for their driving records.

Between 153,000 and 278,000 undocumented New Jerseyans would likely apply for a limited license in the first three years of a new policy; in total, about 464,000 New Jersey immigrants would be eligible for a license.

New Jersey would be the 13th state to implement this common-sense policy, which would:

Make the state safer:

• There would be fewer risky uninsured and unlicensed drivers on the road.

• There would likely be a decrease in fatal accidents, based on the experience of states with similar laws.

• Communities would be made safer by improving the trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.

Help New Jersey’s economy:

• More New Jerseyans would be able to fully participate in the state’s economy.

• New Jersey would see about $245 million in new insurance payments, which help hold premium payments down for everyone.

• In the first three years, the state would collect between $5.2 million and $9.5 million in license and permit fees (assuming the license costs $24, the same as a standard license, and the permit costs $10), and upwards of $7 million in new registration fees (assuming that just over 150,000 people newly register a vehicle at a cost of $46.50 each).

Increase the well-being of families:

• Undocumented parents would be able to drive their children to school or doctors’ appointments without breaking the law.

• This policy would reduce the chances of family separation via deportation or jail time and help ease the anxiety that can damage a child’s development.

This common-sense policy change also has widespread support:

• 15 mayors have signed on in support of statewide legislation

• In addition, 12 cities and towns, and 4 counties, have passed resolutions supporting the bill

The key details of A-4425/S-2925

• The bill allows New Jerseyans without documents proving their immigration status or meeting the current six-point system to apply for a limited license that proves their identity, date of birth and residency in New Jersey.

• This limited license would look different from a regular New Jersey license – it would say “Federal Limits Apply” on the front, meaning that it could not be used to board flights, for example. A similar model was approved in California by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

• More than 20 different documents – from an unexpired consular identification to adoption records – could be used to verify a person’s identity, date of birth and New Jersey residency.

• Other vulnerable populations who have trouble meeting the six-point requirements – like veterans, the formerly incarcerated and the homeless – would benefit.

• The bill establishes – but does not fund – an outreach and education campaign to inform the public about the policy change

What this bill doesn’t do:

• Grant anyone legal status – only the federal government has the power to make this kind of change

• Allow license-holders to apply for state and federal programs like NJ FamilyCare or welfare

• Authorize license-holders for work – valid Social Security numbers are needed to gain employment legally

Other key provisions of the bill

• The limited license would be valid for 4 years from date of issuance

• Includes provisions to protect people from discrimination based on holding or presenting this license

• The Motor Vehicle Commission would be required to report on the effectiveness of the legislation and any discrimination violations reported after 4 years of implementation

• The law would take effect after 7 months following enactment.