By Carol Foresta
Congratulations to NW Bronx Indivisible members who were allies and supporters of the Green Light NY Campaign! As a result of this campaign, legislation has been passed giving equal access to driver’s licenses for all New Yorkers, beginning December 16.
How was this victory achieved? A broad coalition of people from various communities throughout our state worked to coordinate a unified driver’s license campaign.
Why is this an important victory for all New Yorkers? Ask yourself this: what is the protocol drivers go through to legally obtain a standard driver’s license? The applicant must apply for a learner’s permit, pass a written test, take a driver education course or otherwise learn how to drive, pass a road test, and provide documents proving their identity, age and residency.
All drivers have to jump through these hoops to get a license to drive. Don’t you feel better knowing we all have followed this protocol? I know, people drive crazy in New York City. But it does make me feel a little better knowing drivers with licenses had to go through a process. It’s admittedly not perfect, but most reasonable people would agree it’s better than no process.
If undocumented people are not permitted to even enter the process, they end up without any legal standard license. That means if they get stopped for a traffic infraction like a broken taillight or not signaling before making a turn, they could end up being deported – while those of us with licenses to drive would get a ticket and that would be that! (Of course, we’d also have to pay the ticket.)
In addition, with the new rules, undocumented people will now have one proof of identity that is accepted for many ordinary things that are important in daily life – such as, if they’re my age, proving their date of birth so they can buy a half-fare MetroCard. Maybe they’ll end up using the subway instead of driving!