Senator Will Espero, Chair of Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced that he is introducing the Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act, which would allow access to driver’s licenses for individuals who cannot show proof of authorized presence or who may be undocumented residents.
“This bill will improve public safety for drivers, pedestrians, residents of and visitors to Hawaii, by helping ensure that eligible drivers pass a driving test and obtain proof of insurance before driving their vehicles in Hawaii,” said Espero. The bill details how applicants can prove identity and Hawaii residency.
Currently, the paperwork requirements mean that many people cannot apply for a driver’s license. “Immigrants cannot apply for the driver’s license they need to take their children to school, go to work, church, or carry out other daily activities,” said Reverend Stan Bain, retired United Methodist pastor.
Unlicensed, uninsured drivers cause damage claims that other policy holders must cover. If these drivers can get licensed and insured, the cost of covering accidents involving uninsured motorists will decline, and everyone will pay lower insurance rates. Since New Mexico began issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants in 2003, its rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to 9 percent.
Another benefit of the bill is that it fosters community trust with law enforcement. Driver’s licenses help law enforcement officers perform their jobs more safely, effectively and efficiently. They enable law enforcement officers to identify the drivers they stop, and check the driver’s traffic and criminal record. In addition, licenses will assist first responders and health care providers in determining the identity of the person they are assisting.
Nationwide state legislatures are creating and moving legislation to ensure roadway safety for all. These policies are being adopted to decrease the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and increase public safety. Eleven states, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to increase access to driver’s licenses.