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New Jersey Residents Need a New Jersey License

Over the last several years I have observed a spike in the number of tickets been written for what is commonly referred to as “expired touring privileges”. It is no secret that in some states, the requirements for obtaining a valid driver’s license are substantially less than in New Jersey. It is my understanding that in North Carolina and Tennessee as little as your name on a utility bill will suffice as proof of residency. In contrast, the Motor Vehicle Commission in New Jersey requires 6 points of proof which may consist of amongst other things a prior New Jersey Driver’s license, utility bill, passport and most importantly proof that you are legally in the country in order to obtain a driver’s license.

Because of the disparity amongst the states with respect to the level of difficulty to obtain a valid driver’s license there has been a tendency within the illegal immigrant population to obtain a license from a state with more lax requirements than New Jersey. However, once that person relocates to New Jersey, he/she must obtain a New Jersey Driver’s license within sixty days.

A New Jersey resident may rely upon his or her touring privileges to drive in this State for the first 60 days after he or she becomes a resident. The use of touring privileges during this time is intended to give a new resident the opportunity to apply for a New Jersey license. After that time, if the driver has not procured a New Jersey license, he or she is technically unlicensed and may not lawfully drive under a license issued by the jurisdiction where he or she used to reside. Once the new resident has qualified for a New Jersey driver’s license, he or she must surrender a driver’s license issued by any other state or jurisdiction to the Motor Vehicle Commission.

Typically an illegal immigrant driving in New Jersey gets stopped for a routine traffic violation. After being asked to present their “license, registration and insurance” the officer is handed an out of state license. The officer than asks “do you live in New Jersey and if so how long”? Being fearful of the situation they have now found themselves in, the common answer is six months to one year. Generally, there is no requirement that a driver in this situation incriminate themselves by answering the question. However, if a driver answers the question, they must answer truthfully.

A trained lawyer may be able to successfully defend a driver faced with being charged with expired touring privileges. For example they may be able to argue that there was no probable cause for the stop or, if a driver can prove that they spend time in both states than they may not have a problem. While in this author’s opinion, the court does not have the authority to confiscate a driver’s license more and more courts are doing so. Therefore it is critical that competent counsel with expertise in this field of law be retained as soon as possible.

This article is intended to provide general advice only. It is not intended to take the place of a consultation with an attorney. The facts and circumstances of every case are different. The Law Offices of Shapiro & Sternlieb, LLC invite you to contact us for a free consultation.