We all love our cars and the privileges that come with them. They are part of our everyday lives–they help us get to our jobs, run errands, ferry our kids around, and buy groceries. Driving is essential to the ability to be a productive member of a family and community. With the addition of ride sharing apps, our car can even help us to earn income!
Imagine if you couldn’t drive and couldn’t contribute to your family or community. It would suck, right? You’d have to rely on Uber, which is expensive, or public transit, which isn’t always convenient and doesn’t always take you directly to your work, your kid’s school, or the store. You would be incredibly hamstrung by your lack of options and couldn’t earn any income for your family, show up for work on time as a trustworthy employee, be a reliable parent who can pick your kids up from soccer practice, or swing by the grocery store on the way home to pick up dinner for your family.
That was the case for thousands of unauthorized immigrants living in Virginia who didn’t have the opportunity to earn a driver’s license. But now, thanks to years of advocacy from immigrant rights groups in the Commonwealth, the state is issuing driver privilege cards to immigrants beginning July 1.
Driver privilege cards are different from driver licenses in that they need to be renewed every year and the holder of the card has to file taxes or be listed as a dependent on a tax return. More than 300,000 unauthorized people are driving without a license in the Commonwealth. Giving those drivers a legal way to drive is something Virginia can do to ensure safety for every user of the state’s roads.
Giving Driving Privileges to Immigrants Makes Virginia’s Roads Safer
Twelve states and the District of Columbia already have programs where unauthorized immigrants can obtain some sort of driver’s license. Extending driving privileges to unauthorized immigrants will require individuals to take driver’s tests and properly register with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Licensed drivers are more likely to understand the rules of the road, more likely to obtain car insurance, and are less likely to flee the scene of an accident.
We are working to make Virginia a state that welcomes everyone. To be truly welcoming means to be safe and free. Giving driver’s licenses to all Virginia residents would move the Commonwealth closer to being a state that is welcoming by making our communities and economy stronger. Then, more residents can live normal lives without breaking the law by driving without a license. Let’s keep the progress rolling in Virginia by continuing to elect progressive leaders to represent us. Pledge to vote this November 3!
Check out our other bills highlighted in Progress Virginia’s Christmas in July: