A sample Assembly Bill 60 license showing the federal warning message at the top write. Courtesy the Drive California coalition
A sample Assembly Bill 60 license showing the federal warning message at the top right. Courtesy the Drive California coalition

Lines formed Friday at state Department of Motor Vehicles offices around San Diego County, the first day that undocumented immigrants can apply for drivers licenses.

With the beginning of the new year, California became the 10th state to offer such licenses to people who cannot establish legal U.S. residency.

Longtime immigration advocate Enrique Morones said all the documentation does is give the migrants a right to drive a vehicle.

“People have not stopped driving,” Morones told 10News. “People are driving to and from work, dropping their kids off at school, and I want to be sure that person driving next to me knows the rules, has passed their driving test, has insurance and has registration.”

Without licenses, undocumented immigrants faced hundreds of dollars in fines and the impounding of their vehicle if caught driving.

Morones’ group, Border Angels, is helping to set up DMV appointments. Applicants need to be able to prove their identification, show they live in California via rental agreements or utility bills, provide a thumbprint, and pass the usual tests needed to acquire a drivers license.

While the written test is available in several languages, the road test will be given in English, according to the DMV.

The licenses authorized by Assembly Bill 60, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, will include text saying they are not valid for federal purposes, like obtaining a passport or boarding a passenger aircraft.

The DMV, which expects around 1.4 million applications, hired 900 new employees to handle the workload.

“DMV is committed to successfully implementing this new law to increase safety on California roads by putting licensed drivers behind the steering wheel,” said agency Director Jean Shiomoto. “Californians planning to apply for a new driver license under AB 60 should study for their exams and gather the required documents for proving identity and residency.”

The DMV, which will begin Saturday hours tomorrow to handle drivers license applications, increased the window to make appointments from 45 days to 90 days and opened four license processing centers.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.