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Alpert v. Harrington

June 26, 2007

ROBERT M. ALPERT, APPELLANT,
v.
SHARON HARRINGTON, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Skillman, P.J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Argued May 30, 2007

Before Judges Skillman, Lisa and Grall.*fn1

A federal statute, enacted in 1996, mandates that "each State must have in effect laws requiring the use of . . . [p]rocedures requiring that the social security number of . . . any applicant for a . . . driver's license . . . be recorded on the application[.]" 42 U.S.C.A. § 666(a)(13)(A). If a state fails to comply with this mandate, it "lose[s] a substantial portion of [its] federal funding for various welfare programs[.]" Tenison v. State, 38 P.3d 535, 537 (Alaska Ct. App. 2001). In conformity with this mandate, the Legislature enacted N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.60(a)(1), which provides in pertinent part that "[t]he Social Security number of an applicant for any . . . driver's license . . . shall be recorded on the application." To implement this legislation, the Motor Vehicle Commission adopted a regulation, which provides in pertinent part:

(a) An applicant for any . . . driver license . . . or registration shall disclose his or her social security number(s) upon the application form furnished by the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission.

(c) This section shall not apply to persons who are exempt from applying for a social security number. [N.J.A.C. 13:21-1.3.]

In September 2005, the Commission notified appellant, whose driver's license was scheduled to expire on January 31, 2006, that "your name and/or date of birth on your motor vehicle record does not match information contained in Social Security Administration files[,]" and that the Commission would not be able to renew his license unless he resolved this discrepancy.*fn2

Appellant responded to this letter by submitting a letter in November 2005, followed by an affidavit, executed on January 17, 2006, which asserted that he was not required by federal law to maintain a social security number, that he had revoked any social security registration he may have obtained before he became "of legal age," and therefore, he had "no valid social security account number." These submissions were accompanied by a document, entitled "Affidavit of Revocation and Rescission," submitted by appellant to the Department of Treasury in 1990, by which appellant purported to revoke his registration with the Social Security Administration. Appellant claimed that as a result of his submission of this document to the Social Security Administration, he was "exempt" within the intent of N.J.A.C. 13:21-1.3(c) from the requirement of submission of a social security number on his application for renewal of his driver's license.

Although the Commission did not respond directly to appellant's letter and affidavit claiming this exemption, it did not renew his driver's license. Appellant also went to the Commission's service center in Trenton and made telephone calls to the Commission's offices, but the representatives with whom he spoke declined to renew his driver's license on the ground that his application did not include a social security number.

Appellant then wrote letters to the Commission, a state Senator and two members of the Assembly objecting to the Commission's refusal to renew his driver's license. The Commission responded to communications from the state legislators by a letter dated March 21, 2006, a copy of which was sent to appellant, which stated in pertinent part:

Please be advised that the only exception from the MVC's requirement for driver license renewal applicants to provide their Social Security numbers is for "persons who are exempt from applying for a social security number." See New Jersey Administrative Code 13:21-1.3(c) which is enclosed.

Mr. Alpert indicated that he filed an Affidavit of Revocation and Rescission with the United States Treasury Department in 1990, and he provided a receipt for certified mail to indicate that he sent the letter by certified mail. Mr. Alpert also provided a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), dated August 12, 2005. That letter indicated, among other things, that the SSA does not require a person to obtain a Social Security number but that other agencies do require Social Security ...


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