News

Seen At 11: NJ DMV Changing Names Of Some Residents

TRI-STATE NEWS HEADLINES

From our newsroom to your inbox weekday mornings at 9AM.
Sign Up

NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) — For many of us, our driver’s license is our primary form of identification.

However, in a number of states — including New Jersey — the Department of Motor Vehicles intentionally misspells residents’ names, which is causing a lot of headaches.

Andre Di Mino said his name is spelled as it appears in this sentence, with a space and two capital letters. But his license reads “DIMINO,” which, he said, “is not my last name.”

As CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois reported Friday, the licensing systems used in many states are so outdated that they don’t allow names that have an apostrophe or hyphenations. In addition, there is only room for 17 characters on the card, meaning many long names such as “Christoper” often get cut down to a shorter names like “Christoph.”

“It’s a pain,” Emily D’Alessandro said.

“I don’t think a government should change anyone’s identity,” John Di Napoli added.

Consumer advocate Karin Price Mueller says the licensing programs are so outdated, she cannot even get a space between Price and Mueller.

“Given the melting pot that this country is supposed to be, shouldn’t we be able to give people their proper name?” consumer advocate Karin Price Mueller told DuBois.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has acknowledged the problem and said it is in the process of updating the system, but that it will take some time.

“There is absolutely no uniformity,” said Price Mueller. She said the licensing program is so outdated that she cannot even get a space between “Price” and “Mueller” on her driver’s license.

This simple glitch can cause major problems for consumers when they’re trying to board a plane, or make a purchase, and their ID doesn’t match, consumer advocates said.

“I have to explain myself, and they always ask if I have a third form of identification,” D’Alessandro said.

For Di Napoli and Di Mino, directors of the Italian American organization UNICO, the problem runs even deeper. 

“I feel like I have to capitulate. It’s almost like when the people came through Ellis Island, you know, they changed their last names,” Di Mino said. “With the computer power today, this has got to be a simple fix.” 

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle commission told CBS 2 it hopes to have a new licensing system, one that can accommodate all names, in place by 2016.

But some states say it can take 10 years to get the new programs up and running.

Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com: