On January 8th, Illinois joined New Mexico and Washington as a state which allows illegal immigrants to receive valid driver’s licenses. The bill originally failed in 2007 by two votes, but passed the house last year 65-46. The hope is that by making licenses available to everyone on the road will make the roads safer for all by avoiding traffic violations.
The supporters of this bill used statistics to prove the necessity of this new law. There are an estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants who are old enough to drive yet cannot receive licenses to operate vehicles. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights has said that these illegal drivers cause around $64 million in damages per year, a cost that is carried by people who pay for insurance.
Past requirements for licensing were a valid social security number or other documentation proving a right to be in the country. Now, this new bill will allow illegal immigrants who have lived in Illinois for a year and can show a lease agreement, utility bills or other documents showing the residency requirement and a $30 application fee to receive a driver’s license. The license is temporary and needs to be renewed every three years but cannot be used to board airplanes, buy guns, or vote in general elections.
Driving is a dangerous activity even for people who have valid licenses to operate cars and trucks. This legislation is a huge step to ensure the safety of roads in Illinois and limit fatal accidents that change lives. The rate of fatal car accidents was up 17% in January to July of 2012 compared to the previous year. If you have been stopped for a moving violation, wait to speak to a legal professional before admitting guilt. Contact an experienced traffic attorney in Chicago who can help you protect your license and your ability to earn a living.