Republican legislative leaders, former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights CEO Lawrence Benito joined with business leaders to express their support December 4 for legislation providing temporary driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants to improve safety on Illinois roads.
Co-sponsored by Senator Bill Brady, Senate Bill 957 was passed by the Senate later in the day on December 4, by a vote of 41-14-1.
Senate Bill 957 is sensible and reasonable legislation to protect Illinois’ highways and families, which will provide $3.75 million in new revenue, ease the burden on jails and courts, assist first responders and healthcare providers, and increase the pool of urgently needed organ donors.
“This legislation will move public safety forward in that it will educate, train and test drivers, and will authorize them to have insurance protecting the motorists that they may get into a conflict with," Senator Brady said.
Senator Brady comments on Senate Bill 957 during press conference.
Illinois is home to approximately 250,000 immigrant motorists who are unable to get a driver’s license and insurance. Unlicensed and uninsured immigrant drivers cost us all $64 million in damage claims. Last year 42% of all fatal crashes in Illinois involved unlicensed drivers, and nationwide, unlicensed motorist are five times more likely to be in a fatal crash than licensed drivers. Washington and New Mexico already require all motorists, including undocumented immigrants, to get driver’s licenses.
“This is a good example of the state trying to address a serious safety issue. This is not a new issue. The failure of the federal government to develop a comprehensive national solution has put us in this situation,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said. “When last considered in Illinois, the concept received bipartisan support, but there were still concerns about some of the provisions. I appreciate the work that has been done to address those concerns, and I feel comfortable that we have taken steps to ensure there will be as little fraud associated with this program as possible. It is the right time for this important public safety issue to move forward in Illinois.”
“Senate Bill 957 is about making our roads safer and keeping insurance premiums low. It is estimated that there are between 200,000 and 250,000 undocumented motorists in Illinois – driving without a license or insurance. Individuals seeking a temporary driver's license must prove that they have lived in Illinois for at least a year; pass written, road and vision tests; and be insured,” said House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego).
The legislation is also co-sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton and, in the House, by Assistant Majority Leader Edward Acevedo. The legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support from political leaders: Governor Pat Quinn, Former Governor Jim Edgar, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, among others.
“It’s encouraging to see both Democrats and Republicans work together on practical solutions to keep our roads and families safe,” said ICIRR’s CEO Lawrence Benito.