For the first time since 1993, undocumented workers will be able to obtain a drivers license in the state of California through California’s Assembly Bill 60 (AB60). California will be joining other states such as Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, as well as Washington, D.C in allowing undocumented workers to drive legally. This bill is a big step for agricultural workers of California and other undocumented workers, many of whom drive to work without a license.
AB60 passed on September 12, 2013 and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2015. The law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue a drivers license to those without the necessary proof of “legal presence” in the United States. Applicants under this bill must meet all other qualifications in order to obtain a drivers license. These qualifications Include:
- Be over the age of 16
- Submit an application (form DL 44) which can be found in print at your local DMV office
- Submit proof of California residency
- Submit a legal document saying they cannot obtain a social security number or are not legally allowed to live in the United States.
- Pass a written test
- Pass a driving test at the DMV
Applicants who receive this license receive it for “Driving Privileges Only”. This means the license cannot be used as a type of identification, used to board an airplane, gain employment, open a bank account, and other benefits.
Although this license is for “Driving Privileges Only”, AB 60 provides many other benefits for undocumented workers and other drivers of California. Now, undocumented workers can legally drive their children to school, run errands, and go to work. These licenses give undocumented workers more freedom and more positive legal presence in the state of California.
A very important benefit of this bill is that it is creating safer roads for everyone in California. With over 1.4 million undocumented workers living in the state, it is about time they have the chance to safely obtain a license
through formal training. In the state of California, licensed drivers are required to have car insurance. AB 60 will help decrease the event of unlicensed drivers leaving the scene after a car accident, therefore giving drivers more information on what to do in the event of an emergency.
With all the benefits this bill brings to the state of California, there are also some concerns and risks with Assembly Bill 60. The difference between a license for a citizen and a license for an undocumented worker is the distinguishing “Driving Privileges Only” on the card.
Many are concerned that if drivers are pulled over, police officers could report the undocumented worker to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to investigate their legal status. Under this bill, the DMV cannot share information of the status of undocumented workers, but this does not completely apply to police officers that can pull undocumented workers over.
Many applicants have also raised concern over the necessary documents needed to obtain a license. Many undocumented workers do not have these documents because they are too difficult to get from their government, or
are too costly. Applicants without these documents could be disqualified from receiving their license altogether.
While this bill is still being amended, legislators are editing language and working with the DMV to protect undocumented workers. Assembly Bill 60 is a big step for immigrants in California and immigration reform as a whole.
For more detailed information on how to prepare to receive your license visit the California DMV website at www.dmv.ca.gov and click the AB60 tab under the Driver License heading. On this website you will find information in English, Spanish, and a variety of other information on topics such as:
- AB60 general information and updates
- Sample driving tests
- Public hearings and workshops
If you are unable to access the Internet to visit the website, you can call or visit your local DMV office and ask a representative for print information about AB60. To call the DMV for information or to find your local office, dial 1-800-777-0133. Call Center business hours are: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8 am to 5 pm, Pacific time and Wednesday, 9am to 5 pm, Pacific time.