We know that having a car in California is an absolute necessity and for years the undocumented members of our community have had to roll the dice every time they take the wheel. This is no longer the case with a recent passing of a bill signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
When does the new law take effect?
The new law is expected to take effect no later than January 2015.
What Does the New Law Provide?
The new law allows non-documented members of our community to apply for a special drivers license valid in California only. The license will have a special designation on it that indicates that the license is not a form of ID and cannot be used to verify employment or benefits eligibility.The new law also bans the license from being used in racial profiling and cannot be used by local law enforcement as a basis for arresting someone who is in the country illegally.
What Does this Mean for Everyone?
For years the undocumented have taken the wheel out of necessity without a drivers license. Because of this, there was no motivation to study our driving laws nor a requirement for passing a driver’s test to indicate that they understoof the rules of the road. Further, many did not carry insurance as many insurance companies did not insure those without a driver’s license. With the passing of this new law, it is thought that undocumented drivers will come out of the shadows and receive proper training and purchase insurance.
Having all of the drivers on the road properly trained and insured has some obvious benefits to all of both in terms of safety and financial protection. Though, no one has mentioned this yet, I believe that this may in fact also reduce the number of hit and run accidents in Los Angeles County which has one of the worst track records for this in the country. Other benefits are still unclear.
While it is clear that this license cannot be used as a form of federal identification, what is not clear is how local agencies plan to respond to the new license. Many organizations such as libraries and other municipal services often ask for a drivers license as a form identification to take advantage of services. Whether or not these agencies will accept this is not know at this time.
In all, I think this is a positive move forward for all Californians. It’s about time we start doing something to deal with the issue of immigration reform and I am glad for one, that California is setting an example.
ABC News did a pretty good job of covering this story and if you want to learn more you can read the full article here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/gov-brown-sign-bill-giving-immigrants-licenses-20453268?singlePage=true
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