On appeal from Final Agency Decision of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 19, 2007
Before Judges Payne and Sapp-Peterson.
Edward Henshaw appeals from a final determination of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission denying Henshaw's application for renewal of his driver's license on the ground that he presented insufficient proof of identity, age or legal residency to satisfy the requirements of N.J.S.A. 39:3-10d and N.J.A.C. 13:21-8.2.
N.J.S.A. 39:3-10d provides in relevant part that:
In addition to requiring an applicant for a driver's license to submit satisfactory proof of identity and age, the commission also shall require the applicant to provide, as a condition for obtaining a permit and license, satisfactory proof that the applicant's presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.
See also N.J.S.A. 39:2A-29h (authorizing the Motor Vehicle Commission's administrator to "[i]mplement additional proofs of identity verification for a non-driver identification card, driver's license, permits, and registrations.").
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:2A-29h, in 2003, the Motor Vehicle Commission adopted amendments to the identification provisions of N.J.A.C. 13:21-8.2 in "an effort to make the New Jersey driver license a more secure, more tamper-resistant document" and "to prevent people from fraudulently obtaining driver licenses." 35 N.J.R. 2946(a) (July 7, 2003)(emergency adoption). The amended regulation establishes a point-based identification verification system for persons seeking to obtain or renew a driver's license that requires documentary "proof of identity and date of birth and proof that the applicant's presence in the United States is authorized under Federal law." N.J.A.C. 13:21-8.2(a). The documents meeting the Commission's criteria, enumerated in paragraph (b) of the regulation, are divided into "primary" and "secondary" categories, and each is given a point value. In order to achieve the required point value of six, an applicant is required to produce one document from the primary category, and the remainder from the secondary category. Primary documents include a United States or United States Territory birth certificate or a United States passport (current or expired less than three years). The regulation further provides:
5. If discrepancies exist within or between documents submitted by an applicant, the Commission may require that the applicant submit additional documentation.
8. Commission authorized personnel may review, approve or accept other documentation that proves the applicant's identity and date of birth, and that the applicant's presence in the United States is authorized under Federal law. [N.J.A.C. 13:21-8.2(a)5 and 8.]
Appellant Henshaw, who lacks either a birth certificate or a passport, was unable to meet the primary document requirement of the regulation. Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:21-8.2(a)8, the Commission afforded Henshaw the opportunity to present other documentation to prove his identity, date of birth, and his lawful presence in this country, and it extended the expiration date of his existing driver's license from February 28, 2006 to August 31, 2006 to permit the submission of additional materials, which occurred on July 21, 2006. However, his supplemental documentation was deemed deficient.
In a final decision of September 22, 2006, the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission found that Henshaw had failed to "meet the requirements for a New Jersey driver license renewal based on the documentation he has submitted thus far." The Administrator found that Henshaw had not "provided any primary documents . . . that prove at least three things: legal name, date of birth and legal presence in the United States." She also determined that the only secondary documents that the Commission could "definitely accept" were his marriage certificate, his Social Security card and his recently expired pre-digital photo driver license. However, the Commissioner found: "[T]hese documents, by themselves, are insufficient to prove identity and legal presence in the United States."
On appeal, Henshaw offers a somewhat harrowing explanation for his inability to meet the Commission's identification requirements. Henshaw claims*fn1 to have been born in the United States Virgin Islands, on the island of St. Croix, on or about January 10, 1945. His mother was "itinerant." Henshaw never met his father. When Henshaw was a child, his mother allegedly departed for New York City, leaving Henshaw with relatives, who failed to care for him. As a result, Henshaw became homeless. When Henshaw was approximately ten years of age, he stowed aboard a ship to New York City, where he believed that his mother resided. However, he was never able to locate her, and for a period of time, he lived on the streets. At the approximate age of fifteen, ...