(TRENTON) - Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Gabriela Mosquera, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Wayne DeAngelo and Patrick Diegnan to extend use of stored driver's license photo for persons undergoing chemotherapy or other treatment for medical illnesses was approved 37-1 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill (A-4719) - approved by the Assembly on Dec. 17 - extends the use of the person's stored driver's license photo if the person is undergoing medical treatment for an illness and that treatment results in temporary changes to the person's physical characteristics. An example of such treatment would be chemotherapy.
"A patient undergoing major medical treatments with temporary side effects should not have to change their driver's license photo if it's not necessary," said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). "These residents are fighting for their lives. They should have more time to decide if they have to change their license photo. Matter of fact, they deserve it."
"Not all of the identifying characteristics listed on the driver's license change when undergoing certain medical treatments. Eye color, height and skin color may stay relatively the same throughout," said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). "Enduring treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation takes great emotional, physical and mental strength. This legislation provides piece of mind to residents who have more to think about than changing a driver's license photo."
The sponsors were moved to draft the bill after hearing the story of Neptune City resident Joanne Jodry, who was told she would have to take a new picture when she went to renew her license at the Motor Vehicles Commission office in Freehold. Jodry, who is battling breast cancer and has lost her hair to chemotherapy, asked if they could use her old photo, but according to a media report, her request was denied. Ultimately, Jodry was allowed to wear a scarf over her bald head after speaking with a manager.
"Patients should be allowed to focus on their health in times like these," Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "When there are medical reasons for the physical changes they experience, these cases should be treated differently when it comes to driver's license photos."
"We've all had a friend, family or neighbor endure serious medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation," DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Patients often heal and return to the way they looked prior to treatment. However, this takes time. Changing the driver's license photo can and should wait until after treatment."
"Medical treatments for cancer and other major diseases are arduous and intense for a patient," Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "Taking a new photo for a driver's license is insignificant at a time when a resident is focused on healing and getting through the next treatment. If a resident needs more time to get to DMV to take a new photo due to major medical treatments then they should have it."
The bill requires the Chief Administer of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to allow a person to use a stored picture to renew a license for one year if person is ill and undergoing medical treatment that temporarily changes the person's appearance. The person is required to present documentation by a licensed physician.
The fee would be $18 and the person would not be required to pay the digitized picture fee (currently $6) at the time. A picture of a person undergoing treatment for an illness that results in physical changes is unrepresentative of that person and could serve as an ineffective identifier.