Musings on Sports, Politics and Life in general

You’re a US citizen, but you can’t drive in NJ

NJDMV & You - Imperfect Together

According to an article in yesterday’s Jersey Journal, birth certificates from Puerto Rico, issued prior to July 1st are invalid under New Jersey’s 6 point verification program. Talk about a fiasco! American citizens are being denied driving privileges solely due to the circumstances of their birth. In the meantime, citizens of notoriously corrupt nations – such as El Salvador and Nicaragua – are not facing such draconian measures.
This is another example of regulations and bureaucracy standing between citizens and their rights. If you’re old enough, you remember when NJ didn’t even offer a photo ID; now, you need to prove you are who you are 6 different ways in order to legally drive. Of course, under the current system a birth certificate is not required to get a license. But the alternative documents for identification aren’t readily available to most citizens: fewer than 10% have a DD-214, for instance.

A driver’s license remains a privilege and not a right. However, in a state like New Jersey denying someone those privileges often means denying them the means of earning a living, food shopping, getting the kids to school – in short, denying them the basic standard of middle class life. Denial of privileges should only be done in extreme circumstances (repeated DUI, for instance). And revoking privileges for life is rarely done in this state, and usually after repeated major moving violations. Permanently revoking them because a government official in another jurisdiction may have done something illegal? Unheard of.

Of course, the impetus for this is 9/11 and the federal government’s mandate on personal verification. As any good libertarian can attest, that is a very dubious proposal. The very idea that the government doesn’t trust its own citizens and imposes a need for verifiable identification smacks of the draconian measures instituted by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in the name of “security.” So, while the idea of a national ID card keeps running into roadblocks put up by liberal and libertarian organizations, the essence of the mandate managed to sneak through. New Jersey’s Puerto Rican population suffers as a result this time. Next time, it could be people born in Arkansas. Or even New Jersey.
In other words, New Jersey is penalizing Puerto Ricans, solely because they were born in Puerto Rico, in fear of losing federal highway funds. All because the federal government is afraid that another terrorist attack will launch from a poorly documented citizen. Really?
Besides, when was the last time somebody from Puerto Rico blew up a skyscraper?
As an aside, Sen. Bob Menedez is Puerto Rican. Anybody wondering if his driving privileges are being revoked?

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