Governor signs bill to expand driving privileges

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Immigrants and advocates from South Jersey pose for a photo in Elizabeth, N.J., on Dec 19, 2019, the day Gove. Phil Murphy signed a law to expand access to driver’s licenses.

Immigrants and advocates from the Camden Diocese attended the ceremony in Elizabeth, N.J., on Dec. 18, 2019, at which Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new law to expand driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

“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,” Gov. Murphy said.

Bishop Dennis Sullivan has been an advocate for expanding driving rights to individuals regardless of immigration status, and many local Catholics fought hard for the legislation.

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.

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’s effective date is Jan. 1, 2021.

New Jersey is the 15th state in the country to expand driving privileges to qualified drivers.