VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 1/8/2012
Why we did this Public Safety – Above all, this change was made to increase public safety. More licensed drivers will mean safer streets. DMV estimates that tens of thousands of unlicensed and uninsured drivers are currently on New York’s roads, contributing to increased accidents and hit-and- runs as well as higher auto insurance rates. In fact, in its report, “Unlicensed to Kill,” the American Automobile Association found that unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in a fatal crash than are validly licensed drivers. Lower Auto Insurance Rates for All Drivers – As other states that have implemented this policy change have proven, and as the State Department of Insurance has confirmed, this policy change will result in lower auto insurance rates for all drivers across the board. The State Department of Insurance estimates that expanded license access will reduce the premium costs associated with uninsured motorist coverage by 34% which will save New York drivers $120 million each year. Increases Security – Brings People out of the Shadows – The change will bring immigrants out of the shadows and into the system, which creates public records that, if necessary, law enforcement agencies can access to help solve and prevent crimes. It also further enables the immigrant community to work with law enforcement to help solve and prevent crimes, rather than avoiding reporting accidents or violators out of fear. Strengthens “One Driver/One License” Rule – One of the hallmarks of New York State’s secure license system is its commitment to the rule of “one driver/one license” – the idea that DMV must verify the identity of the applicant and that that applicant must be issued just one license. The new anti-fraud upgrades DMV will implement – document verification technology, specially trained staff, photo comparison technology and a residency requirement – will further strengthen this rule and thus increase system-wide security. Why it makes sense beyond the direct outcomes Commonsense approach that faces up to reality – While the federal government continues to be ineffective in reforming our immigration laws, we have to deal every day with the reality that approximately one million undocumented immigrants are living in New York. Many are driving without a license or insurance simply because of their immigration status. That leads to more uninsured accidents and higher insurance rates. This change will help ensure those unlicensed and uninsured drivers come into the system. Moreover, not having access to any form of identification has driven an entire population of New Yorkers into the shadows, which is detrimental to public safety. Simply rolls back previous administration’s policy – What DMV is doing is not new. In fact, prior to the last administration, all New Yorkers had access to the license, regardless of immigration status. But we’ve gone one major step beyond that because we have tied this change to increased security enhancements like document verification technology, photo comparison tools, and specially trained DMV staff. Eight other states already have a similar policy – HI, ME, MD, MI, NM, OR, UT. DMV is not the INS – DMV is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that a person can prove his or her identity and a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The real question for DMV is who that person is, not how that person got here. Determining the person’s identity is the key to a secure system, which is why this policy change is paired with a regime of new security enhancements. DMV does not have the responsibility of enforcing our country’s immigration laws. That is the federal government’s role. Simply, DMV is not the INS and should not base its licensing system on immigration status. In fact, an overly restrictive license policy has created a greater potential for fraud and black market of documents given that undocumented immigrants have to commit identity fraud simply to get a license. What we are actually changing The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will announce Friday an administrative policy change that will give all New Yorkers the opportunity to apply for state driver licenses without regard to immigration status – rolling back a policy change made during the previous administration. The DMV estimates that tens of thousands of undocumented, unlicensed and uninsured drivers are currently on New York's roads, contributing to increased accidents and hit- and-runs as well as higher auto insurance rates. In addition, bringing more New Yorkers into the system will ensure a greater number people have a set of public records that, if necessary, can be used to enhance security efforts. Tied to the policy change, DMV will also announce plans to implement a new regime of anti-fraud measures to increase the security of the licensing system as a new population of New Yorkers comes into the system. State law requires license applicant to prove their identity, date of birth, fitness to drive and a social security number (the SSN requirement was made in 1995 in order to punish parents who were not paying their child support). In 2002, State regulation was established to allow for applicants who are ineligible for a SSN to also apply. The DMV then issued an administrative policy that defined how a person can prove their SSN ineligibility, which they defined through a formal letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration, which, in order to get, requires the applicant to have legal status. It is this last administrative policy that DMV is changing. From now on, license applicants will check a box on the license application that states that the applicant is not eligible to receive a Social Security number and, instead of presenting a SSN or a letter of ineligibility will instead provide a current foreign passport and other valid and verifiable documents to prove identity.
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