It was bitterly cold out the morning of December 6, but there they were, at the steps of the State House, young and old, asking for a privilege most of us take for granted. For more than a decade now, they have been petitioning state legislators to do right by them.
I was inspired by their resiliency and faith. So that day I sent around a letter to my elected representatives urging them to support the recently introduced bill (A4743/S3229). It would expand access to a driver license — or to a state ID card — to more New Jersey residents, enabling their self-sufficiency for now they would be able to confidently identify themselves and (subject to appropriate testing, registration, and insurance) could drive for such essential needs as work, school, carrying groceries, or reaching medical care.
Sectors of our most vulnerable residents would benefit: seniors, persons in re-entry or recovery, immigrants. They would gain confidence and independence, and we would reduce the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on our roads.
Large areas of New Jersey lack adequate public transportation. This forces many households to drive at least one car. But many can’t obtain a driver license due to the onerous documentation required (the infamous six points of ID).
This legislation would create two types of licenses. One would comply with federal REAL ID requirements to board airplanes, vote, etc. The other would simply require proof of identity and New Jersey residence.
Increasing access to social inclusion and physical mobility in New Jersey is long overdue. Let’s hope our elected officials steer this legislation to its prompt adoption before the year is out.
— Maria Juega
Grover Avenue, Princeton
Maria Juega retired in 2016 as executive director and co-founder of the Trenton-based Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Visit www.laldef.org.