Lawmakers are looking right now at the prospect of allowing immigrants who are not legally in the United States to get a driver’s license in New Jersey, said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said Wednesday night on New Jersey 101.5 that it’s something that should be done to improve safety on the roads.

“You have a lot of people driving that aren’t insured. And they’re going to be driving, whether we like it or not. They’re on our roads. They’re working in different places,” Sweeney said. “So it’s something that we’re going to have to address. We’ve just have to figure out how we do it in the right way.”

A pair of rallies has been held at the Statehouse this month by activists pushing for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, as Gov. Phil Murphy called for last year as a candidate.

Sweeney said the issue is not being rushed so that it can be done in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the security of standard driver’s licenses. The special licenses under consideration would provide driving privileges but couldn’t be used for identification for things such as boarding airplanes.

But Sweeney said he does support the concept.

“I think we have to because they’re driving anyway,” he said. “At least if we do it in the right way, where people then can get insurance properly.”

Sweeney said that in Bridgeton, which has a large population of migrant farm workers, many cars are registered in Pennsylvania or North Carolina and that some drivers abandon cars and run away if they get into an accident.

“It’d be better to find a system that allows someone to drive a legal way that doesn’t hamper our ability to keep ourselves safe,” Sweeney said.


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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