Capitol Alert

California immigrant license preparations continue with extended DMV hours

Most people who attended a DMV public hearing at 11th and O streets wore this sticker on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
Most people who attended a DMV public hearing at 11th and O streets wore this sticker on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. rpench@sacbee.com

On the verge of granting hundreds of thousands of drivers licenses to immigrants in the country unlawfully, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will extend its hours and offer more appointments next year.

In January California will join the ranks of states that offer driving permits to undocumented immigrants. The rollout hit a snag when federal officials rejected a proposed license design as too subtle but eased back on track after California redesigned the IDs to make them conspicuously different from conventional licenses.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has been steadily building towards an influx of license applicants projected to reach 1.4 million people over the next three years. The DMV has already announced a series of Spanish-language informational videos and last week unveiled emergency regulations establishing which forms of identification immigrants can use to prove residency and receive licenses.

Now the department has announced it will expand Saturday hours by appointment, open up more appointment slots in certain offices and allow applicants to schedule appointments 90 days in advance, up from the current 45-day limit. The new options will be available to anyone, immigrant or otherwise, applying for their first California license.

“DMV is committed to providing excellent customer service to all Californians,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement. “Customers with appointments have much shorter wait times, and now all customers seeking new driver licenses will have extra appointment opportunities.”

Lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown approved a budget in June that allocates an extra $67 million to cover the cost of training DMV staff and opening new field offices.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

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