Governor Dannel P. Malloy has signed into law a bill that will improve public safety on our roads by ensuring that residents, including those without current immigration documents, have the ability to obtain a driver's license.
In Connecticut, it is estimated that there are more than 50,000 drivers without current U.S. immigration documents who have neither a driver's license nor motor vehicle insurance. These residents will need to apply for a driver's license, obtain the necessary insurance, and demonstrate the same capability as all Connecticut drivers.
"It shouldn't matter where someone's from -- if you are driving on our roads, you should have to prove that you have the skill set necessary to operate a motor vehicle. I want every driver in Connecticut to prove they're a safe driver, and right now as it stands, we have thousands of people in our state -- and millions more nationally -- who don't have the access to obtain a driver's license and yet are utilizing our roads. This is about public safety and this problem needs to be addressed," Governor Malloy said. "The United States Congress needs to undertake immigration reform in a comprehensive and commonsense manner, but until that happens, we need to take the steps necessary to manage this particular area of concern."
The law, which takes effect on January 1, 2015, allows residents who cannot provide the motor vehicles commissioner with proof of legal residence in the U.S. or a Social Security Number to obtain a driver's licenses for driving purposes only. The licenses cannot be used for federal identification purposes (i.e. boarding a plane) or as proof of identity in order to vote.
The law specifies the types of proof of identity and proof of residence needed to obtain such a license, the restrictions on the use of the license, and prohibits the commissioner from issuing such a license to a person convicted of a felony in Connecticut. Licenses will not be issued unless the resident can prove their identity with a valid passport or other similar document.
The Governor thanked legislative leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney and State Representative Juan Candelaria for their advocacy on this topic.
"Reliable transportation is a necessity in modern life," Senator Looney said. "The need to earn a living does not vanish just because a person does not have the appropriate immigration credentials. Most undocumented immigrants would like to operate vehicles within the law. This is an important public safety measure that ensures drivers on the road possess the necessary qualifications and skills to operate a motor vehicle."
"I want to thank Governor Malloy and legislative leaders in the House and Senate for their support on this issue," State Representative Candelaria said. "There is a serious problem in the state with undocumented immigrants driving without a license or insurance. This is an important step toward making our highways and roads safer for all Connecticut residents."
Governor Malloy also acknowledged the work of Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Melody A. Currey and her agency's staff for their commitment to enacting this policy.
The legislation is Public Act 13-89 -- An Act Concerning the Issuance of Motor Vehicle Operators' Licenses.