In April 2015, the Colorado legislature’s Joint Budget Committee finally reached a key compromise on increased funding requests for driver’s licenses for the undocumented in Colorado.
Earlier in the year, the legislature in a surprise move de-funded the driver’s license program for the undocumented license law, known as SB-251. Licenses began to be issued August 1, 2014. This de-funding fiasco led to the shutdown of 4 out of the 5 offices designated to handle only the undocumented licenses and IDs in Colorado. It essentially gutted the program, as it only allowed 30 persons per day to even apply, let alone obtain a license with success. To compare with the DMV’s regular workload, the DMV sees about 5,500 appointments per day. Needless to say the pent up demand, plus this defunding glitch, has led to a huge backlog in trying to apply for a driver’s license in Colorado for the undocumented – perhaps up to a year in waiting.
Effective June 1, 2015, the JBC will add three additional offices and staffing to bring the total number of driver’s license offices up to four. Gov. John Hickenlooper recently signed the bill to also free up $66,000 for the program and cited that each immigrant driver pays $50 for the driver’s license and identification card. Hickenlooper recently told reporters, “We’re not talking about taking taxpayers’ money.”
Lawmaker have cited the stronger interest in public safety and a need to get unlicensed drivers off the road to make Colorado roads safer. Approximately 8,000 immigrant driver’s licenses for the undocumented have been issued since the start of the program.
It has been a rocky road for SB-251 and the Colorado undocumented license law, but perhaps Republicans will accept the necessity for providing Colorado driver’s licenses to those not legal in the US, in order to promote safety on our roads.
Call Catherine Brown if you have any questions about the Colorado driver’s license laws.