According to the latest news report on Illinois government website, key leaders and top officials are pushing for a bill granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) have now received the support of the state and local leaders as well as the Illinois Highway Safety Coalition (HSC) in their efforts to ensure that all Illinois motorists are properly licensed to drive.
The bill, if passed, would make Illinois only the fourth state where illegal immigrants are able to get driver licenses. So far Washington, New Mexico and Utah are the only states where illegal immigrants can get driver’s licenses. Current Illinois law prevents the DMV from issuing licenses to illegal immigrants. This becomes a safety issue as these undocumented immigrants drive without license, insurance and road safety tests.
According to the Illinois Highway Safety Coalition (HSC), unlicensed and uninsured drivers are involved in almost 80,000 accidents in Illinois each year, causing $660 million in damage. Unlicensed immigrant drivers cost $64 million in damage claims alone. These drivers pose an enormous safety risk for all Illinois drivers, leading to higher insurance premiums for everybody. Top state leaders believe that this risk can be prevented.
Approximately 250,000 immigrants drive without licenses in Illinois, according to the Highway Safety Coalition, a group of law enforcement and labor officials supporting the bill. The group says that if only half of these 250,000 unlicensed immigrants become properly licensed and insured, Illinois insurance policy holders would save about $46 million in premium payments every year.
Illegal immigrants are currently prohibited under the state law from obtaining a driver’s license. Studies have demonstrated that immigrants who can drive legally are more likely to work and consequently contribute to the economy. Being able to get a driver’s license gives these individuals greater access to job opportunities and contribute to business activity.