Governor Quinn signs law allowing undocumented persons to get driver’s licenses

Well, to use the Vice President’s expression, this is a BFD.

In my almost 20 years of practice, I have seen some major changes to Illinois traffic laws, such as making it a crime (instead of a traffic offense) to drive without insurance, without a license, or speed more than 25 miles over the limit (coming this summer to a highway near you!); lowering the “legal limit” for DUIs, and eliminating multiple supervisions for DUIs.  But allowing undocumented persons to get a driver’s license is definitely the biggest.

And I had not heard one word about this being discussed until after the days after the November presidential election, when the consensus opinion of the chattering classes became that Republicans lost in large part because they were losing immigrant voters, particularly Hispanics.  Immediately after that, Illinois Republicans joined Democrats to pass this bill, and now it is law.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Called temporary visitor driver’s licenses, the permits will vary from traditional licenses several ways. Most noticeably, they will be visually different, with a blue background as opposed to [a] red one.

The cards will be marked “not valid for identification” and cannot be used for things like boarding airplanes, voting or purchasing a gun. The licenses will only be valid for three years instead of four years, like traditional licenses. After three years, the individual would have to go through the process again.

To qualify for a license, an applicant must prove they have lived in Illinois for a least a year and show that they are ineligible for a Social Security card. Documents that will be accepted include a copy of a lease, utility bills and a valid passport or consular identification card.

Drivers must also pass vision, written and road tests and pay a $30 fee. In order for the license to remain valid, a driver also will be required to get insurance. If a person with a temporary visitor’s license is caught driving without insurance, they will be ticketed for both driving without insurance as well as driving without a license.

People who want to apply for the licenses must first make an appointment at one of eight designated facilities across the state. Licenses will not be issued on the spot but only after the state can verify application information and perform a facial recognition search against other databases.

The permits will not be available for 10 months, which was requested by Secretary of State Jesse White in order to have adequate time to prepare for implementation of the new law.

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