Legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for Illinois driver’s licenses passed through the House Transportation Committee Monday morning and heads to the floor.
Under the plan, drivers could obtain three-year licenses, called Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses. They would be required to take driver's education and purchase car insurance. Lawmakers believe there are as many as 250,000 undocumented immigrants on Illinois roads and that more than 40 percent of deadly Illinois crashes involve drivers who don't have a license.
"Unlicensed, uninsured drivers pose a serious risk to every driver and passenger on Illinois roadways," Secretary of State Jesse White and State Police Director Hiram Grau in a joint statement. "We can do better – and save lives - by requiring all drivers to have licenses."
White and Grau said in the statement that approving the plan would also lower insurance rates and strengthen the economy "from the work and buying power of all of our state’s residents."
New Mexico and Washington, which have passed similar laws, have seen traffic accidents involving uninsured drivers plummet, they said.
In November, state politicians -- including Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton, House Republican Leader Tom Cross and former Illinois governors Jim Edgar and James Thompson -- joined to support the bill. Twenty-eight Chicago aldermen have also signed a resolution in support of the bill.