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Questions and answers on immigrants' licenses

The licenses will be issued late next year at the earliest. They will be marked differently to distinguish them from licenses for U.S. citizens.

October 03, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy

Why did Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature agree to allow driver's licenses for those in the country illegally?

Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), the bill's author, cited public safety as a primary reason for the bill. A Department of Motor Vehicles study published in 2012 found that unlicensed drivers or those who had their licenses suspended or revoked are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash than licensed drivers.

How soon will these licenses be issued?

Alejo said DMV officials believe they may be able to begin issuing them in September or October 2014. The legislation calls for licenses to be issued by Jan. 1, 2015.

Will immigrants in the country unlawfully get the same driver's licenses as citizens?

No. The licenses will have distinguishing marks and a notice that they cannot be used to meet federal identification requirements. The bill suggest the permits bear the initials DP for "driving privilege," instead of the normal DL, for "driver's license."

Who will be eligible?

Officials estimate that at least 1.4 million immigrants might be eligible. The legislation suggests that the DMV consider allowing documents including a consular identification card or passport from the applicant's country of citizenship, a home utility bill, lease agreement, birth certificate, marriage license, college transcript and income tax returns to establish identity.

Once identification is established, what else must applicants do?

They must pass a written exam on the rules of the road and a driving test. They will also undergo an eye test and pay a $32 fee. The minimum age for getting a license is 16.

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