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Restricted driver's license bill for undocumented residents advances to Senate floor

Drivers_License (CBS2)
Drivers_License (CBS2)
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Undocumented drivers may soon be able to drive legally in Idaho.

A bill that would provide a restricted driver's license to all Idaho drivers over the age of sixteen regardless of citizenship status, has cleared a senate transportation committee.

The bill sponsor Sen. Jim Guthrie says the bill will improve Idaho's road safety and ensure more drivers on Idaho roads are covered by insurance, according to the bill. However, the measure does come with some limitations.

"Keep in mind the restrictions in there, no voting, no gun purchases. I think it's written fairly tight that way," he told committee members during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 28th.

The license could not be used as a legal I.D. at airports or through international ports of entry.

Applicants would be required to pass a formal driver's test, provide some form of identification and pay $50 for a license & renewal every two years.

Chyla Wilson, with the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, gave the bill a thumbs up during public testimony.

"I'm here to say, it must be recognized that these individuals are here, and they're currently ingrained into our workforce, throughout our state, and throughout different industries," she said during last Tuesday's testimony. "It's been that way for decades and will continue to be that way into the future."

Poder of Idaho, the organization that spearheaded the measure, collected 8000 signatures in support of the bill. Many of those came from each member of the Senate transportation committee members' districts. Erik Medina an organizer with Poder says the bill would prevent fatalities on the road and bring in extra revenue to the state.

"If this bill passes we can expect a decrease in fatalities on the road and over 700,000$ in funding to the state. If this bill does not pass the stories you will hear from folks directly impacted by this bill and the pain felt will not only represent our past but the future as well," Medina said.

However, not all were sold on the idea, Jeff Laver with the Idaho Sheriff's Association testified against the bill, he says immigrants already have the option to obtain a license.

"There's already a process in place for anyone in our country legally, on a work visa. They can obtain a valid driver's license through the sheriff's office," he said.

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The legislation passed the committee on a roll call vote and sent to the Senate floor without a recommendation. It's expected to get more debate.

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