New Jersey drivers are getting a break on how often they need to visit the Motor Vehicle Commission after long wait times greeted drivers returning to MVC locations after the monthslong coronavirus shutdown.
Gov. Phil Murphy said he signed two sets of legislation Thursday aimed at lessening the number of drivers needing MVC services in-person.
MVC offices reopened in July with long lines of people waiting to be served. That backlog led to the new rules and expansion of online services.
The biggest change announced for the most drivers is that valid driver’s licenses photos will now expire in 12 years, instead of eight. If you are 65 or older, your license photo never needs to be retaken.
Your license photo is basically now valid and extra four years, MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton said at Friday's coronavirus news conference. You can now just renew a license online.
The deadline to register vehicles and obtain licenses for new residents is also being temporarily extended for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. The new law gives new residents 120 days to transfer registrations and licenses to New Jersey.
Senior citizens and people with certain medical conditions will now be able to use designated appointment windows to lessen the burden on them during COVID-19 pandemic.
“The temporary, but necessary closure of our MVC facilities earlier this year has resulted in an undeniable burden on many residents,” the Democratic governor said. ".. This legislation will reduce wait times and allow our vulnerable populations to have the access they need to obtain critical services.”
Fulton estimated that the changes will take about 220,000 people out of MVC centers through the end of the year.
For those who can't do certain transactions online, you can arrive at 8 a.m. each day to get a number. You will then be contacted with an appointment time, Fulton said. At most agencies people get tickets to be served that day. Saturdays remain the most busy day.
"We strongly encourage customers to avoid Saturdays if possible," Fulton said.
She said that lines outside don't mean "dysfunction" inside MVC locations and could just be due to social-distancing requirements.
She said forms and other services are available online and can help lessen the wait time at -- or eliminate entirely -- MVC visits.
Fulton noted that only four of her agency's workers have tested positive for COVID-19 since reopening two months ago.
New Jersey has reported nearly 196,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic -- 518 new cases were reported Friday. At least 14,234 are confirmed to have died from coronavirus-related complications with another nearly 1,800 deaths suspected to be from the virus.
On Friday, Murphy noted a level of concern that the rate of transmission remained above 1. The 1.08 Rt means that each infect person is passing the virus onto slightly more than one other.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that young people are making up many of the new cases. She says people between 19 to 24 have a 6% spot positivity rate while 14- to 18-year-olds test positive about 4% of the time. All other age groups have a flat or declining spot positivity rate, which was at 2.6% statewide.