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News From

State Senator

Martin M. Looney

Majority Leader

Representing New Haven, Hamden & North Haven

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Contact: Adam Joseph
860-240-8641

May 30, 2013

Looney: Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Residents an Important Public Safety Measure

In a move that will make Connecticut streets safer and boost the economy, Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) this evening led final passage in the State Senate of a bill (HB 6495) that would allow undocumented residents to get Connecticut driver’s licenses.

“This is an important public safety measure that ensures drivers on the road possess the necessary qualifications and insurance,” said Senator Looney. “Reliable transportation is a necessity in modern life. 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. We make this impossible by denying these residents access to drivers’ licenses. Not only is driving itself illegal for them, but without a legal license, these drivers cannot purchase the required insurance.”

It is estimated that the more than 50,000 uninsured undocumented resident drivers in Connecticut cost insured drivers about $20 million in annual uninsured motorist insurance premiums. Additionally, under current law, towns lose millions more in uncollectable property tax revenue on unregistered vehicles.

Drivers without a valid license are nearly three times more likely to cause a deadly crash.

“There are approximately 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States and approximately 120,000 in Connecticut,” said Senator Looney. “It is likely that this estimate is low. Many of these residents are our neighbors and co-workers. Many of them perform vital functions in our communities. We all know that our nation’s immigration law is broken; this is part of the reason we have so many residents who lack legal credentials. Seeking these licenses would represent an act of courage in stepping out of the shadows of undocumented status.”

HB 6495 allows people who cannot provide the motor vehicles commissioner with proof of legal residence in the U. S. or a Social Security Number to obtain driver’s licenses for driving purposes only. The licenses cannot be used for federal identification purposes (e.g., boarding a plane) or as proof of identity in order to vote.

The bill 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.

The bill, which now goes to the Governor for his consideration, takes effect January 1, 2015.

 

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