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N.J. Legislature passes bills allowing fully online vehicle purchases

New Jersey drivers could be allowed to conduct an entire vehicle transaction online and show authorities a digital copy of their registrations following bills approved Thursday by the state’s Legislature.

The bills would authorize dealers and buyers to conduct motor vehicle sales entirely online, assuring the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission would not reject digitally signed paperwork. While online sales are currently allowed, buyers still have to physically sign purchase and registration documents, according to a report from NJ.com.

The legislation would allow a buyer and a licensed dealer to use electronic signatures for all motor vehicle transaction documents in place of wet-ink signatures.

The digital alternative could potentially cut down on paper and speed up transaction time.

“I think everybody in the business realizes there’s just way too much friction and paperwork involved in purchasing a motor vehicle. Consumers are frustrated by it, dealers are frustrated by it,” said Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers.

The state General Assembly in January unanimously approved the bill to authorize online vehicle sales.

Online and remote vehicle sales were previously allowed in an executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy in March 2020 after coronavirus restrictions closed businesses, but in-person sales resumed that May.

“I think the comfort level for many consumers is now greater than it was pre-COVID. Nothing in this legislation requires or forces consumers to do anything,” Appleton added. “The dealerships, the retail automotive business, is always about meeting the customer where they are on their terms that they want to be met.”

Additionally, New Jersey could allow drivers to show a digital proof of vehicle registration, a proposal that has been pending since 2019.

The bills were approved by both the General Assembly and the Senate. They will go to Murphy for final action.

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