Dear Editor,

Many in New Jersey are prevented from driving because they have no proof of permanent residence or  access to proper identification papers. These include the homeless, victims of domestic violence, many seniors, undocumented immigrant residents and people re-entering society after incarceration. Yesterday, a bill that would change that passed the Assembly judiciary. In the days ahead, the full state Senate and Assembly will have a chance to vote.

Assembly bill A4743  would affect 720,000 residents who can’t get licenses now. Documents that could be accepted  include those that allow the applicant to list a church or shelter as a permanent residence.

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Being barred from obtaining a license to drive, or use as an ID to open a bank account, makes it difficult for residents to find and keep a job, get healthcare, care for family members and remain safe from abusive partners. It hinders thousands of residents striving to stay safe and become self-sufficient.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted new regulations similar to A4743 and have benefitted. Requiring all New Jersey to be trained, insured and know the rules of the road is a matter of public safety. But it is also an important way to foster independence for those who seek it but are thwarted without a license. It’s good for all state residents. And I urge New Jerseyans to call their representatives and urge them to vote yes on A4743.

Sincerely,

Carrie Stetler