On Jan. 1, 2015, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will begin issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented residents as stated by law AB 60, which was approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

As the long-awaited date arrives for the immigrant community, state authorities are preparing to receive the wave of applications; meanwhile, they are traveling throughout the state, trying to respond to people’s concerns.

On Aug. 21, hundreds of people gathered at the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino, where DMV official Maria Tejeda, as well as San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan and San Bernardino Sheriff's Department spokesperson Ruben Perez, tried to answer as many questions as possible during a community forum.

“It is important to remember that the DMV is not issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers yet; we will begin early next year, so please don’t be a victim of fraud," said Tejeda. “What people should start doing is studying for the test and begin putting all documents together to be prepared. We still do not know what those documents will be, but we know for a fact that it will be an official document and proof of local residency."

The driver’s licenses under AB 60 will have a mark that stipulates they are for driving privileges only. They will cost $33 and will not be used as an official identity card, meaning that they can’t be used to board a plane or open a bank account. However, they can be used to buy car insurance and drive freely.

“We obey and implement laws. Our department will use the licenses as identification for any official business. It is crucial that all of those people who can obtain a driver’s license avoid possible legal issues," said Burguan. “If you have pending tickets, go see a judge, pay them or arrange a payment plan. It is my understanding that the DMV will not issue a driver’s license until all tickets have been paid."

According to Perez, having a driver’s license is a big responsibility and a privilege worth caring about. Perez urged community members to educate themselves regarding the state regulations and to respect them in order to avoid losing the privilege.

“We know Hispanics like to party, and that’s OK, but remember that driving under the influence is against the law and could make you lose that privilege," said Perez.

The written part of the exam will be offered in many languages, as the DMV already does. According to Carolina Zaragoza Flores, consul of Mexico in San Bernardino, the DMV will also offer exams in Mexican native languages, including Mixteco and Trique, which are spoken in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Guerrero, among other states.

Zaragoza Flores said it is hard to know how many people will be benefited by this option, but it is known that in the Coachella Valley, there is a very large community of Mexican natives who usually speak broken Spanish.

Luz Gallegos, the director of community programs at TODEC in Perris, said the center will offer a program to help residents practice the written examinations. The idea, according to Gallegos, is to increase passing rates the first time in order to expedite the process.

Tejeda said that people could start making appointments within 90 days before the law takes effect. Practice tests are available on the website www.dmv.ca.gov. To make an appointment, call (800) 777-0133 or visit the website.

Tejeda warned that having a driver’s license under another name is considered a fraud and is punishable by law and could make a person lose the possibility of obtaining a license under AB 60.

(1) comment

Djclaessens

If a person is undocumented that means that they are in the United States illegally. Therefore they do not deserve the privilege of a drivers license. We need to protect our country.

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