TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton announced yesterday that the closure of all New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission agency, road testing, and inspections facilities, including the Somerville office, will be extended past this Monday through April 12 to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Fulton had ordered the initial closure from March 17 through March 30. With the threat from COVID-19 continuing and New Jersey having the second-most cases in the United States, it was determined to continue the closures through at least April 12.
Other Commission operations are continuing, through online submissions from customers as well as other functions, according to Fulton, including those that support commercial trucking critical to keeping the supply chain moving during the COVID-19 health crisis.
However, other operations, such as agency and road testing, bring people into closer proximity to each other than is recommended under public health guidelines.
“We cannot have crowds like the ones that are drawn to our agencies during a pandemic,’’ Fulton said. “The health of our employees and our customers takes priority.
“Fortunately, we have expanded our online capabilities over the past year and many of our customers can get their business taken care of that way,’’ Fulton added. “In most cases you can renew your license, replace a lost license, change your address, renew your registration and other transactions through our easy-to-use online portal.’’
Fulton also noted that the federal REAL ID requirement has been extended for another year, until October, 2021, so customers should not feel pressured.
“The safety of our citizens is paramount and we will use every means at our disposal to ensure they are protected,’’ Fulton said.
The closure has brought temporary relief to the neighborhood surrounding the Somerville MVC office, where chronic parking problems on residential streets have created headaches for residents, police and elected officials.
Police are called to the DMV frequently by residents on Roosevelt Place and Schoolhouse Lane who live adjacent to the facility, complaining about traffic and people parking their cars on their property while going inside to conduct business at the MVC, according to Police Chief Dennis Manning.
Shortly before the statewide closure of MVC offices, Mayor Dennis Sullivan had asked Fulton to shut down the local DMV facility on Saturdays to help alleviate the situation.
Recently, the problem has grown worse as MVC offices throughout the state have been experiencing bigger crowds and longer lines as the deadline for Real ID licenses required by the federal Department of Homeland Security for domestic airline travel draws closer.
Fulton has visited the Somerville DMV office twice since she took office.
Fulton was on site soon after she was first appointed to her position in April 2018 to visit with former Mayor Ellen Brain and other borough officials. She was invited by state Sen. Kip Bateman to have a look for herself, which she did one week after taking office.
Soon after that meeting, the MVC office in South Plainfield reopened; Fulton suggested that would help to alleviate the crush in Somerville.
Fulton visited the local MVC office again Feb. 8th to update Sullivan and other lawmakers and confirmed that the DMV has requested its Division of Property Management and Construction to fast track its search for an alternative location. The DMV lease with the property owner expires in one year. Sullivan is confident a new location will have been secured by that time.
The ongoing problems with the DMV location has also gotten the attention of Gov. Phil Murphy, who called Sullivan last month to assure the mayor that finding a new location for the DMV office is a top priority.