New Jersey legislators have advanced a couple of proposed laws aimed at reducing residents' time spent at New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission agency sites, during and beyond the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The action comes as the MVC expands customers' ability to make appointments for certain services, works through heavy demand built up during state-mandated closures, and battles impromptu agency closures due to coronavirus cases among workers.

On Thursday, the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee advanced bills that would permit individuals to take the written driver's test online during the pandemic, and create a one-year virtual check-in pilot program that lets individuals grab a spot in an agency's queue without being present.

The latter was approved by a Senate committee in August.

"Frankly, for months now our people have been suffering," Assemblyman John DiMaio, R-Warren, said before voting in favor of the pilot program.

After reserving a spot in the queue, one would be permitted to officially check in when they're physically present in the agency's parking lot, under the bill. The MVC would then be required to notify the customer when he/she may enter, or send an employee outside to the waiting customer.

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An amendment to the measure approved by the Assembly panel would require that at least six agency sites initially be equipped with the remote check-in abilities. Another four would join over time.

"It has to be better than today's lines and all the issues that go with them," said Steve Carellas, of the New Jersey chapter of the National Motorists Association.

The other measure, A-4632, would allow wannabe permit holders to take the written driver's license knowledge exam on a website operated by the MVC. The law would only exist until 31 days after the state's public health emergency has expired.

The MVC on Friday announced that 11 of its 16 vehicle centers will be appointment-only starting Nov. 2. The other five will permit appointments, but also will continue to operate on a walk-in basis. At the agency's licensing centers, out-of-state transfers will be available by appointment only. Most MVC transactions can be conducted online.

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