Empire Justice Center strongly supports A.4050, which would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue limited purpose drivers’ licenses without requiring applicants to establish their legal presence at the time of the application. Many New Yorkers – an estimated 752,000 immigrants statewide – are unable to obtain a driver’s license, which needlessly imposes costs, increases risk and jeopardizes economic well-being in many areas of the state, particularly in rural areas.
Permitting access to limited purpose licenses would, among other benefits:
- Expand access to drivers’ licenses, thereby increasing public safety, by requiring every driver to pass competency driving tests.
- Make it easier to obtain insurance, making the roads safer and reducing overall costs to drivers and insurance companies.
- Generate revenue in the form of fees required by new license applications, more than covering related costs. The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that New York State and County governments will receive an estimated $57 million in combined annual revenue, and $26 million in one-time revenue through taxes and fees.
- Reduce the caseload of local courts adjudicating arrests for driving without a license. It would enable the resources of local law enforcement agencies to focus on other serious matters.
- Reduce the number of New Yorkers who must risk driving without a license in order to attend school, get to work, worship or simply attend to daily needs of living where no viable transportation alternative is available.
- Bring New York into compliance with the Real ID Act of 2005, which regulates security measures for state driver’s licenses and identity documents. In the near future, New York must modify its drivers’ licenses to conform with the Real ID Act, thus providing a great opportunity to establish the limited purpose license as well.
The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that each year undocumented immigrants pay over $1.1 billion in state and local taxes, and are responsible for many billions of dollars in economic output. Those figures can be increased, while greater safety is brought to the roads, if New York joins twelve other states – including Connecticut and Vermont – and creates this drivers’ license by passing A.4050.
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