A law passed over a year ago began to take effect in California in the early hours of January 2, 2015. The most noticeable impact came in the form of lines outside local offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles. As of 2015, California will join the ranks of Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and ten other U.S. states. In each of these locations, undocumented immigrants will be allowed to obtain a drivers license, completely regardless of their immigration status.
California, however, remains the state with the largest undocumented immigrant population. There are approximately 2.4 million residents of California who are undocumented immigrants. The only other state in the country with more than one million undocumented immigrants is Texas, currently estimated to have 1.7 million. Last year when signing the bill into law, Governor Jerry Brown stated that Californians did not have to hide. This law was meant to show that undocumented people are alive and well and respected in the state of California. The law explicitly forbids such licenses from being used by law enforcement for investigation or arrest.
Officials in California estimate that more than one million residents could now obtain a drivers license, and likely will in the next few years. More specifically, it is anticipated that 1.4 million residents will apply for licenses in the next three years. The California Department of Transportation has prepared for this by opening new processing centers and hiring hundreds of new employees. This move is expected to help the California authorities avoid the delays that were created in other states by implementing similar laws and later being unprepared to execute them. Jean Shimoto, the Departments director, recently stated that the agency is committed to successfully implementing this new law to increases safety on California roads by putting licensed drivers behind the steering wheel.
Shimoto is not alone in praising the new law. This legislative maneuver has been praised by both police and insurance authorities alike; both believe that this will help to make California roads safer for all. Without a drivers license it would not be possible for undocumented immigrants to obtain car insurance of any kind. California motorists who do have insurance are required to pay for uninsured motorists as part of their coverage. In fact, the Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that one in every seven drivers on United States roads is uninsured.
Prior to the enactment of this law, California required that every person prove that they were residing in California legally in order to obtain a drivers license. Now, the applicant must only show that they reside in California. An applicant could present a utility bill or a rental agreement to meet this standard. A driver must also prove their identity by presenting a passport or a government issued identification card from another country. Of course, there are other requirements, such as passing a vision test and demonstrating the ability to safely drive. If the applicant meets these requirements, all that remains is a fee of $33.00.
The attorneys at Brownstone Law are watching these developments carefully. If you or anyone you know needs representation in the area, reach out to us today.
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