(TRENTON) – The Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee and Assembly Appropriations Committee on Monday both approved two bills aimed at addressing the backlog of residents seeking certain services from the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) after the agency was closed for months due to COVID-19.
“While the pandemic put many things on hold, we still need the ability to get new driver’s licenses or register vehicles during this crisis,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), chair of the Transportation Committee and prime sponsor of both bills. “We have to do whatever it takes to fix the MVC, so you don’t have to camp out overnight or wait all day at an agency just to get these simple tasks done. These bills will give many drivers relief, while helping the MVC eliminate its backlog.”
The first bill (A-4520), sponsored by Benson and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli, would temporarily extend the deadline for new state residents to register a vehicle and obtain a driver’s license during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, new residents have 60 days to update their vehicle registration and driver’s license; this bill would extend the timeframe to 120 days.
“New residents who’ve just moved to New Jersey cannot update their documentation online,” said Verrelli (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “With only two months to register vehicles and get new licenses, new residents are rushing to MVC agencies to get their new information squared away. By doubling the amount of time they’ll have to visit the MVC, we’ll make the process easier on the agency and residents alike during these difficult times.”
The second bill (A-4486) would allow the MVC to use stored photos to renew driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards for a maximum of 12 years. Stored photos for seniors over age 65 could be used indefinitely.
Additionally, the bill would allow the MVC to designate times each day or week to offer appointments for certain individuals, including seniors, during the COVID-19 emergency. The measure is sponsored by Benson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle.
“Seniors are at a higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19. As a result, many are exercising an abundance of caution when it comes to going out in public,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Allowing seniors to use stored photos to update their licenses will reduce the amount of trips they need to make to the MVC, and designating specific ‘senior hours’ at agencies will limit their exposure to the public during the pandemic.”
The bills now head to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.