Current law requires new license photos be taken every eight years; bill would allow certain residents to extend life of current photo for a year when renewing driver’s license
(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Paul Moriarty today announced he will introduce a bill to allow residents whose appearance is temporarily altered by a medical procedure to use their current driver’s license photo for a year, when a new photo is required as part of the license renewal process.
Moriarty was moved to draft the bill after hearing the story of Neptune City resident Joanne Jodry, who was told she would have to take a new picture when she went to renew her license at the Motor Vehicles Commission office in Freehold. Jodry, who is battling breast cancer and has lost her hair to chemotherapy, asked if they could use her old photo, but according to a media report, her request was denied. Ultimately, Jodry was allowed to wear a scarf over her bald head after speaking with a manager.
Under current state law, driver’s license photos must be refreshed every eight years.
“Joanne is in a fight for her life. There is no reason to make life more difficult for her than it already is. This is not about vanity; this is about giving someone who is undergoing treatment for a serious illness that alters the way they look, the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “By giving residents like Joanne the simple option to use the current photo on their driver’s license when they are up for renewal, we can spare them the humiliation of having a painful time in their lives captured and frozen in time for them to see over and over again.”
Moriarty’s bill would extend the use of a person’s stored driver’s license picture if the person is undergoing medical treatment for an illness resulting in temporary changes to his or her physical characteristics, such as chemotherapy. The bill would require the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to allow a person undergoing medical treatment for an illness that temporarily changes his or her appearance to use a stored picture to renew a license for one year. The person would be required to present documentation by a licensed physician. The fee would be $18. The person would also be exempt from paying the required digitized picture fee at that time.
The bill is modeled after a law currently in use in Massachusetts.
“A photo of a person undergoing treatment for an illness that results in physical changes is unrepresentative of that person and could serve as an ineffective identifier,” said Moriarty. “This bill would provide a reasonable and compassionate provision, to allow a person getting medical treatment for a life-changing illness to use a stored picture on her or his driver’s license for one additional year.”
“This simple tweak can help those who must endure the painful side effects of a medical procedure,” added Moriarty. “I commend Joanne for speaking up and sharing her story. If she hadn’t, we would’ve never known how something that is so routine for some can be so damaging to others.”