A coalition involving police, business, labor and church groups is asking lawmakers to allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses. It would help the cops in a variety of ways, says Lake County Sheriff Mark C. Curran Jr. “As law enforcement, we will be able to use licenses to identify drivers during stops and check their driving records as well. Drivers will be more likely to stay at the scene of an accident, to aid police and emergency workers and to exchange insurance information with other drivers,” he said at a news conference Tuesday in Chicago to announce the effort, organized by the Highway Safety Coalition.
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Typically, driver’s license applicants currently must have a Social Security number. An estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants in Illinois are driving with no license and presumably no insurance. Curran says those drivers are a burden on the jail and court system, because traffic cases involving drivers with no license or insurance can’t be processed with a ticket, but require hauling in the suspect, towing the car and prosecuting a criminal case.
New Mexico, Utah and Washington have provisions for undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, and they have seen declines in crashes and DUI incidents.
The plan is to move this in the Veto Session after Thanksgiving, though a specific bill has not yet been drafted. Licenses for illegal immigrants is an idea that has been kicking around in Springfield since 1998. A measure passed the Illinois House in 2006, but was never called in the Senate.