via Palm Beach Post
Driving a car, truck or motorcycle is indispensable to many people working and living in Florida. At any given time there are millions of cars on Florida’s roadways. However, it is estimated that as many as one in five of these drivers does not have a driver’s license. Under current law, Florida’s undocumented immigrants lack driving privileges, exacerbating this problem.
To allow Florida’s undocumented individuals to apply for provisional licenses just makes sense.
The results speak for themselves: In Utah there was a 20 percent decline in the number of uninsured drivers after the law was passed. Similarly, New Mexico’s rate of uninsured vehicles decreased from 33 percent to less than 9.1 percent.
Opponents might argue that this is just another benefit the government is extending to law-breakers. However, these licenses do not confer immigration status, nor do they serve as a federal identification document. Instead, these licenses are “provisional” ones of limited duration, there to protect Florida’s drivers on our roads. Florida should enact smart, responsible legislation targeting the benefits of road responsibility and accountability without creating a federal identification document used for purposes other than temporary state driving privileges.
Licensing undocumented immigrants can provide an important law-enforcement tool for police making routine traffic stops and identifying individuals. It helps the state and federal governments know who is in the United States and where these individuals reside. Providing a pathway for undocumented immigrants to obey traffic laws will make everyone on our state’s roads safer.
There are also real economic benefits to laws providing licenses to undocumented immigrants. Insured drivers pay on average $115 more per driver to cover accidents involving those without insurance. Issuing licenses to undocumented individuals would markedly reduce the number of uninsured motorists on the road. This would cause aggregate auto insurance revenues to increase and premium costs to fall considerably in the state. After New Mexico began issuing licenses to undocumented individuals, its rate of uninsured motorists fell more than 20 percent.
Providing licenses to undocumented immigrants in Florida also could increase automobile sales and generate new revenue for the state in the form of license fees, vehicle registrations and license plate fees. Almost $9 million in increased license fees would be generated if only 50 percent of the undocumented immigrants in Florida applied.
Thus, by decreasing the number of uninsured motorists and increasing revenues from fees and automobile sales in the state, new legislation would provide real economic benefits to all Floridians.