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DMV Yet to Decide Details of Getting a License

September 06, 2003|Eric Malnic | Times Staff Writer

They haven't gotten all the bugs out yet, but it appears that it will be a lot more complicated for illegal immigrants to apply for driver's licenses under the new law than it is for everyone else.

SB 60, which goes into effect Jan. 1, repeals the requirement that all applicants submit Social Security numbers, which are not available to illegal immigrants.

Instead, applicants must submit either a Social Security number, a federal taxpayer identification number or "other identifier or number that is deemed appropriate" by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The hitch is that the DMV has yet to decide what is appropriate.

"There are hundreds of questions we'll have to work out before we can implement this," said Bill Branch, a DMV spokesman.

He said the DMV is working on it, and promised Friday that the necessary decisions will be made and publicized well before the new law goes into effect.

The law also repeals the requirement that all applicants submit proof that their presence in the United States is authorized.

Instead, any applicant who submits an alternative to a Social Security number must submit a birth certificate or other acceptable birth record, along with "one other specified document determined acceptable by the department."

Those who do not have birth certificates or records must submit two or more specified documents.

Those documents include:

* Verification records issued by foreign consulates.

* Military identification cards with identification photographs from the applicants' countries of origin.

* Driver's licenses with identification photos from other countries or from another state, territory or possession of the United States.

Other documents that confirm the identity of an applicant may be deemed acceptable.

After they have all their documents, applicants are advised to study excerpts of the California Vehicle Code available at all DMV offices and make appointments for testing.

Those without appointments often have to wait in long lines.

The tests for first-time applicants include a vision test, a driving test and a written test covering California's traffic laws.

The written tests are available in more than 30 languages.

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