Creating a Driver Privilege Card allowing those living here illegally and others to legally drive is as much a public-safety issue as anything else, the Senate Transportation Committee was told Wednesday.
The card isn’t the same as a driver’s license because it can’t be used as identification for anything other than driving, said Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas. He said that means it can’t be used to access benefits or register to vote, for example, or to get on an airplane.
Based on the system Utah has had in place for eight years, he said, it would help ensure that those here illegally are trained, licensed and insured in Nevada.
“People drive even when they don’t have a license,” Denis said.
“We expect the largest group of Nevadans to take advantage of this will be undocumented immigrants, but it’s not limited to them.”
Others who get the cards might be seniors who don’t have documentation such as birth certificates and people who can’t meet requirements for a regular license because of the federal Real ID law, Denis said. The law, passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, creates national standards for driver’s license requirements.
“There are over 100,000 people in Nevada who could benefit from this bill,” said Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas.
The card would benefit the state, allowing more people to buy insurance and possibly cars, he said.
Interim Department of Motor Vehicles Director Troy Dillard added that it would generate revenue for his agency through the $22 annual fee attached to it. The agency would make a $250,000 net profit from issuing 60,000 cards annually, he estimated.
Thirteen other senators joined Denis in sponsoring Senate Bill 303, including Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, and Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas. Roberson testified that the measure “is the right policy.”
Utah Senate Speaker Pro Tem Kurt Bramble testified at the hearing that his state’s system is working well in getting undocumented immigrants to sign up, become trained and licensed, and purchase insurance. The result has been a decrease in the number of those here illegally getting in accidents, he said.
Bramble said he’d point out to those who oppose the idea that states have been put in the position of dealing with illegal immigration issues by “the abject failure of the federal government” to do so.
Kihuen said he has statistics that indicate unlicensed and uninsured drivers are five times more likely to be in a fatal crash. That drives up the insurance rates everyone else must pay, he said.
The committee took no action on the bill.