Capitol Alert

California issues 970 immigrant driver’s licenses on first day

Miguel Ayala waits with his son, Jesus, and other immigrants to register for a driver’s license at a California Department of Motor Vehicles office in Stanton on Jan. 2, 2015.
Miguel Ayala waits with his son, Jesus, and other immigrants to register for a driver’s license at a California Department of Motor Vehicles office in Stanton on Jan. 2, 2015. The Associated Press

Almost 1,000 driver’s licenses were issued on the first day of a new law granting licenses to immigrants living in California illegally, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

The law – under which applicants must only verify their identity and California residency, rather than their legal presence in the state – went into effect last Friday, a busy, emotional day at DMV offices across the state.

The department gave licenses that day to 970 applicants who had their driving test waived, spokesman Artemio Armenta said, most of whom were renewing a driver’s license issued before California’s 1993 law mandating that immigrants prove legal status, or had acquired one in another state previously.

An estimated 46,200 people applied for the licenses on Friday, Saturday and Monday, the DMV said. If eligible, they must pass the standard written exam and road test to receive a license.

Across the state, 54 percent of people who took the written exam on Friday passed, while 36 percent of those who took it in Spanish passed. Those figures include all test-takers, not just applicants under the new law, Armenta said.

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 6:11 p.m. to reflect a DMV clarification about the data.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.

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