Advocates for Domestic Violence Survivors, Women’s Reproductive Health Voice Support for Expanded Access to Driver’s Licenses for All Regardless of Immigration Status in New Jersey
NEW JERSEY — (Wednesday, December 11th, 2019) Domestic violence and Women’s reproductive health advocates announced their support in favor of expanding access to driver’s licenses for more residents in New Jersey. Every year there are at least 40,000 domestic violence survivors in New Jersey. Many of whom have had to flee abusive partners and homes, which increases the risk of losing access to important documents and along with it losing their access to a driver’s licenses. With improved access to a driver’s license, survivors of domestic violence can use more variety of official documents to apply for a driver’s license.
Currently, legislation A4743/S3229 is being considered in the New Jersey legislature that would expand said access to more residents in the state where at least 719,000 residents lack access to a driver’s license. The legislation passed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee and will be heard before the Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday, December 12th.
Nicole Morella, Director of Public Policy and Communications, New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV) said,
“NJCEDV is grateful to the Assembly Judiciary Committee for moving A4743 forward. So many survivors of domestic violence leave an abusive situation without the documents they need in order to obtain a driver’s license. As a form of control, abusive partners may keep, withhold or even destroy a survivor’s documents as a way to limit their freedom, isolate them from their community, and to prevent the survivor from leaving. Access to driver’s licenses will increase access to the many services that survivors and their families need- including attending doctor’s’ appointments, court hearings, and appointments at their children’s school.
“Access to driver’s licenses also increases access to education and employment opportunities that are critical to a survivor’s economic security after leaving an abusive partner. NJCEDV is committed to increasing access to services and resources for all individuals impacted by domestic violence and urges members of the legislature to join us in this effort by passing A4743/S3229.
Trish Perlmutter, Esq., Policy Counsel, Partners for Women and Justice said,
“Immigrant women are especially vulnerable to domestic violence because of their immigration status, language and cultural barriers, social isolation, limited financial resources, and lack of valid identification, all of which can reinforce victims’ dependence on their abusers. At a time when ICE enforcement is chilling immigrants’ seeking police or family court protection, access to a driver’s license as a means of identification as well as transportation is more important than ever in fostering independence and empowering victims to leave their abusers. Partners for Women & Justice supports the expansion of access to drivers licenses for New Jersey residents who can prove their residency, identity, and driving ability.”
Roxanne Sutocky, Director of Community Engagement, Women’s Center said,
“Cherry Hill Women’s Center has served as a trusted resource for reproductive healthcare services in New Jersey for nearly forty years. We know that across the Garden State travel barriers hinder residents’ access to time-sensitive, pregnancy-related care. Expanding access to all qualified drivers in New Jersey will mean that people seeking medical care will no longer need to choose between missed doctor’s appointments and the risk detainment during routine traffic stops.”
Fourteen states and Washington D.C. have implemented similar policy measures, with many states experiencing a decrease in the rates of uninsured motorists and an increase in road safety. Studies show rates of uninsurance decreasing significantly in Utah, California, and New Mexico after the implementation of expanded access to driver’s licenses.
The Let’s Drive NJ campaign is supported by a diverse and growing number of faith, labor, and community organizations and supporters from across the state. More information about the campaign can be found at LetsDriveNJ.org.