Fresno-area Department of Motor Vehicle offices saw nearly 700 applicants on the first day undocumented immigrants became eligible for California driver’s licenses, but no statistics were available on how many of them passed the written test.
The DMV released statewide and local statistics this week on the progress of Assembly Bill 60. The new law grants driver’s licenses to anyone regardless of legal status, so long as they can show proof of identity, California residency and meet all other testing requirements.
In the Fresno area, offices in Hanford, Visalia, Tulare, Fresno (Olive Street), Clovis and north Fresno collectively saw 682 applicants with appointments Friday.
DMV officials statewide recorded 17,200 applicants that day, plus 11,100 Saturday and 17,900 Monday. That’s for all original licenses including AB 60, new drivers and those from out of state. Local statistics were not available for the other two days.
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Statewide, 54% of applicants on Friday passed the English written test. Another 36% of applicants statewide passed the Spanish written test. Across the state, 970 applicants received a license.
By comparison, 51% of applicants passed the English written test between July 7 and Dec. 31. An additional 28% passed the Spanish written test during that time frame.
DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez said no driving tests were given on Friday. Applicants who received licenses that day had expired California licenses.
“It is up to the discretion of the manager,” she said in an email. “They could wave the behind-the-wheel (test), because they had taken a behind-the-wheel in the past.”
In 1993, the state began requiring proof of legal status to obtain driver’s licenses. In 2003, Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally again. But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pressured the legislature to repeal the law after Davis was recalled.
The DMV said it will release AB 60 updates every Tuesday.
An estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants are expected to apply for licenses in the next three years. They cost $33 and last five years.
The licenses look no different from other California driver’s licenses save for two notable exceptions. The front includes the phrase “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY,” and the back states: “This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes. This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits.”