Illinois is one of the most socially progressive states in America, making it a desirable place to live for immigrants and non-immigrants alike. Illinois is in the front of the pack among the states when it comes to three of the biggest social issues of the day – same-sex marriage, marijuana, and immigration. Ours was within the first 20 states to legalize medical marijuana and gay marriage, and among only 10 states so far to allow undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license. All three laws were passed last year, positioning Illinois as one of the leaders in granting civil liberties to its citizens.
Reasons Behind Issuing Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants
The state’s reasons for issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants are the same as the reasons behind legalizing same-sex marriage and medical marijuana – it is both practical and the right thing to do. Supporters of same-sex marriage, and of greater immigration rights, argue that it is just to treat all people who reside in our country the same – granting everyone equal rights. Not everyone agrees, but regardless of your interpretation of individual rights under the U.S. Constitution, it is difficult to argue with the reality that undocumented immigrants are going to drive.
In fact, some estimate that in Illinois – the fifth most populated state – over 250,000 drivers are undocumented. Inevitably, these drivers get involved in accidents from time to time. The Illinois Highway Safety Coalition reports that undocumented drivers cause $64 million in damage claims each year. So, one practical approach to this problem is accepting the reality, and requiring that undocumented drivers learn the rules of the road and get a license and insurance.
Getting Your Driver’s License
Undocumented drivers, or non-visa immigrants who wish to drive, can now apply for what is called a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL). A Temporary Visitor Driver’s License is good for three years but may only be used for driving purposes – not as valid identification in other circumstances. Commercial driving licenses are not available – only class D, L, or M (car or motorcycle). Some of the requirements are listed below, but not all, so be sure to check with an official testing center, or call the state office at 855-236-1155.
The general Temporary Visitor Driver’s License requirements include:
- Making an appointment at an approved facility (you may bring an interpreter);
- Residing in Illinois for at least one year;
- Passing a vision, written, and road exam;
- Having current liability insurance on your vehicle; and
- Bringing $30 to pay for the cost of the license.
The licensing facilities accept different forms of identification. Make sure you have everything required before going to your appointment. A list of required documents is published at the Illinois Cyber Drive website. After you have met all the requirements and passed the exams, your Temporary Visitor Driver’s License will be mailed to you.
If you are having difficulty getting your Temporary Visitor Driver’s License in Illinois, or if you need legal assistance with an automobile accident or any other immigration issue, please contact an experienced immigration attorney at Mevorah Law Offices LLC today.