Four years after offering undocumented immigrants the opportunity to obtain driver’s licenses, the state of Connecticut has seen a noticeable drop in unlicensed driving citations and hit-and-run crashes. Since the option to obtain a ”Drive Only” license became available, more than 50,000 individuals have completed the testing process to drive legally in Connecticut, not only pumping millions of dollars into the Department of Motor Vehicles, but also putting safer, better-trained drivers on the roads.
In addition to fewer crashes and untrained drivers, “Drive Only” licenses seem to encourage better compliance with law enforcement officers at traffic stops and more efficient tracking of undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States. Based on these benefits, legislators in New York, New Jersey, and several other states are considering similar programs in their own states. Individuals must not only pass state testing, but also insure their vehicle and show residency in Connecticut to obtain a Drive Only license.
Benefits of the “Drive Only” Driver’s License
Law enforcement officials and immigration experts have identified a host of benefits from the Drive Only program in Connecticut including:
- Decrease in hit-and-run accidents: Between 2016 and 2018, in Connecticut cities with the most Drive Only licenses, hit-and-run accidents dropped by 15 percent, compared to 9 percent statewide during the same period.
- Economic boost: Since it began four years ago, the program has brought the state of Connecticut $7.5 million in licensing fees. Small businesses like driving schools that train multilingual customers are also seeing an increase in revenue.
- Efficient policing: Anytime an individual is pulled over without some form of identification, more time, money, and energy are spent processing them. Drive Only licenses offer a valid form of ID, saving officers valuable time.
- Fewer unlicensed drivers: Since Drive Only licenses became available, Connecticut has found 4,000 fewer people guilty of driving without a license. That means less weighty fines imposed on foreign-born individuals already struggling to achieve financial stability in this country.
- Safer traffic stops: It is suggested that with a driver’s license, foreign-born drivers are less likely to fear being pulled over and are more willing to cooperate with law enforcement officers, making stops safer for everyone.
Questions About Drivers’ Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants
Connecticut’s Drive Only licensing program certainly offers many benefits to state residents and drivers alike. Yet there are some opponents to the program. Some immigrants fear that Drive Only licenses make them easily identifiable and increase their risk of detainment. Some law enforcement officials are not convinced the program is the reason for fewer hit-and-run accidents.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Resolve Complex Immigration Matters
Undocumented immigrants live with fear of detainment every day. While driving is essential for most individuals to get to work or transport children to school, limitations on accessing a driver’s license and other documentation make these tasks difficult for many. Attorneys at Surin & Griffin, P.C. can clarify your rights and obligations as a foreign-born person in the United States. We understand immigration laws in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation and provide high-quality legal counsel to help you make smart, safe decisions for you and your family. Call 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation with a Philadelphia immigration lawyer today. Based in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.