California is home to the largest number of undocumented immigrants. The estimate is said to be somewhere in the millions. Previously, many of these individuals had no choice but to drive without licenses due to the demands of work and daily life. They risked legal trouble among other problems every time they got behind the wheel. Fortunately, this is no longer the case.
On January 2, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices began accepting driver’s license applications from undocumented immigrants. Thousands lined up at multiple locations throughout the state. The lines extended for blocks and even wrapped around whole plazas. By the end of opening day, more than 17,000 applications were processed.
Hundreds arrived at their respective offices hours before opening time. Some even staked out spots the night before to nab an early spot. For them, getting a license meant a great deal. It spelled security, comfort, and peace.
“When you’re driving with no license it’s a risk. It’s like a flip of a coin,” said one early-comer. “You never know when they’re going to stop you.”
The DMV estimates that approximately 1.4 million immigrants will apply for licenses over the next three years. In anticipation of the extra work, the agency has hired more than 900 additional employees.
Advocates of the new licensing program believe that it will improve the situation, not only for undocumented immigrants, but also for the general public. Licensed drivers are more likely to obtain auto insurance, and thus, more insured drivers will be on the road. Some government officials believe that hit-and-run accidents will be reduced and road safety will get better.
The dedicated Austin attorneys at Peek & Toland are happy to help you with your immigration needs. Please give us a call at (512) 474-4445 to schedule a consultation with one of our helpful staff. We will answer any and all of your questions and help you get started on your new life.