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Why Arkansas Should Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Purchase Driver’s Licenses

Many Americans do not realize the value of having a driver’s license unless it is taken away due to getting too many points on their record or criminal charges such as a DUI/DWI.  Yet, the ability to drive to work, pick up your kids, or go visit friends is life changing.  This is especially true in many cities in Arkansas where homes and businesses are spread out and difficult to walk or bike between and where public transportation is often minimal.  A driver’s license is also valuable because insurance companies require you to have a valid driver’s license in order to purchase car insurance.  As we have discussed in previous articles, insurance is an indispensable asset that every driver should have and even driving with reduced insurance is a liability.  But, there is a large segment of drivers in Arkansas and elsewhere in the U.S. who are not eligible to acquire a driver’s license or the auto insurance a driver’s license would allow them to purchase.

 

Undocumented immigrants are not able to get a driver’s license in 38 states including Arkansas.  Twelve states and D.C. do offer a driver’s license for undocumented immigrants.  These states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Washington.  States that allow undocumented immigrants to purchase driver’s licenses not only provide a benefit to immigrants who are less likely to feel the stress associated with driving without a license, they also provide a benefit to citizen drivers in the state.  Citizens who are involved in car accidents with undocumented immigrants in states where immigrants can have a license are more likely to encounter an immigrant who has insurance.  This means that under-insured citizen drivers or those without uninsured motorist coverage will be less likely to have to pay damages and personal injury expenses out of pocket.  Given the large percentage of Americans that fall in these categories (see our earlier article on the subject), making it possible for immigrant drivers to get insurance could have a huge impact on the economic security of citizen drivers. To continue reading this article, visit our blog.