I pulled my car over and stepped out into the night. The trunk and bumper were crushed and torn, but the car was drivable and there were no injuries. The driver who rear-ended me was a pleasant young man whose pickup had suffered less damage. I asked for his license and insurance documents. He offered a card showing that the truck was owned and insured by his brother. Thanks, but can I also see your license? I don't have a license, he replied. Instead, he handed me his matricula consular, identification issued by the Mexican consulate.
A CHP officer arrived and took a report. Jorge, an illegal immigrant, had several previous citations for driving without a license, the officer told me. He would impound the truck and take Jorge to the station, since he couldn't be left on this rural road in Laguna Canyon. The insurance looked valid, the officer said, but it was a fly-by-night company; there might be trouble collecting from it.
It's a common Southern California story — collisions with drivers who have no license because their illegal immigration status prohibits them from receiving one. This wasn't the case until 1994. Before then, the state had its own "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Applicants for a license had to be insured, but they weren't required to offer proof of legal residency.