Undocumented immigrants in California will be able to apply for a driver’s license starting Jan. 2. as the state begins implementing provisions behind the Safe and Responsible Drivers Act, or California Assembly Bill 60. The law provides California residents with an alternative method of obtaining a driver’s license without needing to prove they are in the country legally.
California driver’s license applicants would still have to fulfill the other requirements of providing identity and passing several exams. But unlike licenses currently issued by the state, licenses issued through the alternative method will have the words “federal limits apply” on the front of the card, according to Mashable. As a result, the licenses would be valid only for driving, not for any federal documentation purposes.
Those issued driver’s licenses under the program also will be required to follow other state driver’s laws, including carrying auto insurance.
The state is expecting thousands of new driver's license applications on Jan. 2, when the law goes into effect. Though Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in 2013, the delay was meant to give time to the California Department of Motor Vehicles to prepare for the influx of applicants. Over the course of the coming years, the DMV expects to process 1.4 million applications as a result of the law, according to UT San Diego.
California is one of 10 states that issue or will issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, in addition to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, according to the National Immigration Law Center.
While the rollout of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants has been long awaited, immigration advocates suggest those who obtained a driver’s license using a stolen Social Security number or false identity should consult a lawyer first, according to the Associated Press.