A lovely looking middle-age woman became upset enough to engage in a profanity-laced shouting match with a motor vehicle commission employee on a recent morning at the Baker’s Basin inspection station.
The issue? The woman, seeking to obtain a new digital driver’s license, had attempted to prove her identity by presenting a marriage certificate showing how her last name had been altered since the time her birth had been recorded. The problem was that the marriage certificate had been signed by the minister who performed the service. “Look right here,” she begged. “It says ‘reverend.’”
No good. Reverend does not cut it at the MVC, formerly known as the DMV. Women whose names changed when they said “I do” — once or many times — must present a marriage certificate issued by the municipality in which the ceremony, or ceremonies, occurred.
People showing up on that particular morning seemed to be at least generally aware of the six point identity-proof test the state is now imposing. But no fewer than three women within five minutes were tripped up on the marriage certificate test. Each was sent away empty-handed and advised to contact the offices of the town in which she was married.
It’s a fair guess that this requirement is frustrating many New Jersey drivers. The MVC’s website (www.state.nj.us/mvc) does address the issue, but in small print at the bottom of a page. It states that it is “important information,” and puts the letters in bold, but it is easy to miss.
Go through the well-designed website checklist carefully, though, and it is a good bet that you will not have to make a return trip to the MVC to bring more documents. The website is a better preparation tool than the colorful brochure the state sends along with driver’s license applications. This is so, at least in part, because it is easy to miss the back flap of the brochure, which indicates that, in addition to multiple pieces of ID, successful applicants must also show proof of address. This can be a credit card bill, a bank statement (but not if an ATM card was already shown to help prove identity), a property tax bill, a letter from the IRS, or first-class mail from any federal, state, or local government agency (but only if received within the past six months).
The website leads would-be digital driver’s holders, and that will be every state driver as current licenses expire, through the ID requirements step by step. The first page lists acceptable primary IDs, which are good for four points. In addition to a birth certificate, these include adoption papers, certificate of naturalization or citizenship, and a passport — and married women with passports do not have to worry about presenting marriage certificates.
Enter what you plan to bring, and the website calculates your points and sends you to the next page, which lists one, two, and three-point documents. The three-pointers include US military retiree cards and court orders for legal name changes; the two-pointers include U.S. school ID cards (but only if accompanied by transcripts), and government photo ID cards. One point is awarded for a non-digital photo driver’s license.
Check boxes next to each item you plan to bring and the grand total is shown. If it all adds up to six or more, the MVC’s website issues congratulations and provides a list of the documents you checked — and a suggestion that you print the page and bring it along for your interview with its ID verifiers “to ensure that your trip to the MVC goes as smoothly as possible.”
It’s a good bet that all the women arriving with marriage certificates signed by their ministers — and leaving in a huff to find their way back to Route 1 through a gaggle of car dealerships — wish they had followed it.