LANCASTER – California lawmakers must put politics aside and put public safety first by allowing illegal immigrant drivers to obtain licenses. This according to Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris.
In a news release issued Monday, Parris sounded off on the importance of providing a driver’s license to illegal immigrants and cited a recent DMV study on fatal crash rates and unlicensed drivers to support his cause. Read the news release below:
Drivers who are unlicensed or have a suspended or revoked license are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash, a new Department of Motor Vehicles study found.
“The Californian immigration debate is full of political posturing and extreme ideology and many people cannot bring themselves to see that as a practical matter, refusing to license immigrant drivers has had no discernible impact on the number of undocumented immigrants living in or leaving California, yet it has left our roads more unsafe,” declared R. Rex Parris, Mayor of the City of Lancaster.
“The legal ability or inability to obtain a driver’s license does not affect whether an immigrant enters the U.S. or not. But we know from study after study it’s even more dangerous to be an unlicensed driver rather than drive with a suspended or revoked license. The most recent Department of Motor Vehicles (DVM) study concluded that compared to the average legal driver, such drivers are 2.6 to 2.73 times more likely to cause a fatal crash, depending on the driver.”
The DMV study, Fatal Crash Rates for Suspended/Revoked and Unlicensed Drivers, took crash data over 23 years. Researchers looked at the correlation among two-vehicle fatal crashes where one driver was at fault. The at-fault crash risk of drivers without permission to drive has not diminished over time. The study found that people between the ages of 20 to 29 who do not have driver licenses have the largest percentage of two-vehicle fatal car accidents. (Read the study here.)
“If caught with a suspended or revoked license or found to be driving without one, the law requires a 30-day vehicle impoundment as well as fines. While some cities have relaxed their impound policy to allow unlicensed individuals, accompanied by a licensed driver, to pick up their cars without waiting 30 days, it has not made our roads safer. Unlicensed, and therefore uninsured, drivers cost California alone hundreds of millions a dollars a year in uninsured motorist coverage. In addition, medical costs to care for uninsured motorists injured in an accident force significant costs onto the public,” said Parris.
“It is time that everyone recognizes that undocumented immigrants are already an integral and permanent part of our communities and are not going away; they are here to work and live in our state. California has two legitimate, primary purposes in issuing driver’s licenses: the maintenance of safe streets and highways and the preservation of the integrity of the driver’s license by ensuring that an individual proves their identity in the application process. Most undocumented immigrant drivers drive without being trained, tested, licensed, and insured. That must change. It is time that Sacramento put politics aside and put public safety first by allowing illegal immigrant drivers to obtain licenses. Once they are legally allowed to obtain drivers licenses, we must have law enforcement agencies strictly enforce the current laws regarding unlicensed drivers, including mandatory 30-day holds,” concluded Parris.