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Ruling Delayed on NJ’s License ID Requirments

New Jersey’s Motor Vehicles Commission and the American Civil Liberties Union are trying to reach a deal on whether the state can require more sensitive documents from those seeking driver’s licenses.

NJ Driver's License (NJ DMV)
NJ Driver's License (NJ DMV)

At a hearing on Friday, Judge Paul Innes gave the sides until Sept. 21 to resolve their dispute. Until then, he said, the state will not be allowed to implement the heightened requirements.

That means those seeking to obtain or renew their licenses can continue to use the state’s now-familiar 6-point ID system.

The stricter requirements are part of a federal program, known as TRU-ID, to strengthen the security of state-issued licenses and ID cards. Eventually, the federal government says states must comply with the standards so people can use their cards to board commercial flights or enter federal buildings.

To get the new licenses, people would need to use a document containing a Social Security card and two proofs of residence. Those using passports to meet the requirements could no longer use recently-expired documents.

Advocates for immigrants and the homeless object. The ACLU objects largely on privacy grounds and sued in May to halt TRU-ID just before it was to take effect.

The ACLU’s objection was based on procedural concerns. The state was trying to impose the new requirements without going through the regular rule-making process, which includes gathering public comment.

ACLU lawyer Ed Barocas said state officials seem willing not to require the TRU-ID standards until the regulatory process is completed. But he said the state is interested in other options, such as issuing the more secure IDs for those who want them.

The Motor Vehicle Commission declined to comment. Under the order extended on Friday, the state cannot issue the new kind of identification yet at all — even to those who may want it.

“Any time the state obtains documents which are personal in nature,” Barocas said, “they have to at least state why they’re doing so.”

Barocas said that if he and the state cannot reach a settlement by Sept. 21, he’ll ask the judge not to allow any of the new IDs to be issued for as long as the dispute remains in court.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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