NJ lawmakers introduce bill to expand access to driver’s licenses

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New Jersey lawmakers have introduced a bill that would expand access to driver’s licenses in the state.

Bill S3229/A4743 “creates two categories of driver's licenses and identification cards; allows residents unable to prove lawful presence in U.S. to receive permits and standard driver's licenses or identification cards.” The bill also permits the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to increase certain fees.

The bill comes as New Jersey works to comply with the REAL ID program. Federal guidelines will require all states to be REAL ID compliant by 2020.

But some fear that privacy may be a concern with the REAL ID program.

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"The Real ID Act, which has gone through quite a few torturous maneuvers in the last 10 years, requires permanent retention scanning of lots of very personal, private data and the state of New Jersey has not yet explained how it is going to protect the privacy and security of that data,” says Rutgers University Professor Ron Chen.

Another part of the bill, which has become controversial among critics, is allowing undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses. Critics point out that legal New Jersey residents need to provide “six points” of identification in order to obtain a driver’s license, something many undocumented immigrants may not have.

But supporters of the bill say that expanding access to driver’s licenses will make the state safer overall.

The group Let’s Drive NJ says, “When more motorists are registered and licensed, law enforcement will be able to hold more motorists accountable for their driving records.”

The group says that this will also help strengthen cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement.

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