Undocumented Drivers Can Now Get Licenses In NY State

WCBS 880 Newsroom
December 14, 2019 - 2:37 pm
New York traffic

Drew Angerer/Getty Images


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – New York is now the 13th state to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.

The controversial “Green Light Law” has already withstood legal challenges, including one lawsuit that was struck down on Friday.

“This will basically require the immigrants who want to be able to drive will have to pass the same written test as everyone else, and then they're going to have to make sure they know how to parallel park and make three-point turns,” said Patrick Young, with the New York State Immigration Coalition.

Young says the law will cut down on the number of hit-and-run crashes because drivers are fearful of legal repercussions and being turned over to immigration enforcement officers.

In California, where a similar law was enacted in 2015, a study out of Stanford University found there was a 7 percent drop in hit-and-runs.

“This will really help people become fuller parts of their community,” Young said.

The law has proven controversial. A Siena College poll earlier this year found that a majority of New York State residents oppose the law, with 53 percent against it and 41 percent supportive of it. Critics say it rewards people for breaking immigration laws.

Applicants can present a foreign passport or driver’s license. The law requires those records to be destroyed in an effort to hinder any enforcement from the Trump administration.

The U.S. Department of Justice has said the measure appears aimed at frustrating the federal government’s enforcement of immigration laws.

In New Jersey, lawmakers appear ready to pass a similar bill in the coming week.