NJ Introduces High Tech Driver's Licenses

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There's a new look -- and new safety features -- on New Jersey licenses.

    New Jersey motorists who need to renew their driver's license are finding that long lines are again a reality after scores of cutbacks and office closings, but  the introduction of new, high-tech licenses might ease the renewal process in the future, officials said Wednesday.

    The Motor Vehicle Commission, attorney general's office and New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness unveiled New Jersey's new driver's licenses Wednesday. The license features a series of updated security elements aimed at reducing fraud.

    Even as the upgraded licenses were ushered in, informal questioning of motorists at one local DMV found two hour waits on average, even for a simple license renewal.

    "This is the third day that I'm back because yesterday and the day before the lines were even longer," a motorist who only identified herself as Tina told NBC New York at the Springfield Motor Vehicle Commission office.

    Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman Ray Martinez admitted he would like to get motorists in and out in just 15 minutes.

    "In truth, that is not happening right now," Martinez said.

    He admitted that government downsizing is the culprit.

    "We're operating like every other state agency, we're on an austerity budget," Martinez said.

    He noted the equivalent of 400 full time positions were lost in the past four years and offices have been closed.

    In one example, Springfield has seen an overflow of drivers since the MVC shuttered its office in downtown Elizabeth--one of New Jersey's largest cities--a few miles away at the end of last year.

    This comes as state and local governments were reluctant -- or simply refused -- to raise taxes during the economic slowdown.

    Customers like Tina aren't so sure.

    "I think they should find other places that don't affect everybody because everybody has to come here and everybody needs the Motor Vehicle(Department)," Tina said.

    There is some hope, however.

    Martinez said the new, high tech driver's license will allow motorists to skip an office visit every other renewal.

    That means after getting the new license, you can renew it on line four years later. The next renewal would still require an office visit but Martinez said that will save a million visitors a year.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY