Illinois Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

by Timothy Deffet

On Nov. 12, 2013, Illinois will start issuing Temporary Visitors Driver’s Licenses (“TVDLs”) for undocumented immigrants.  On that date, TVDL applicants may schedule an appointment by calling the Illinois Secretary of State (“SOS”) at 855-236-1155 or visiting The SOS has emphasized that advance appointments are required at all designated facilities; walk-ins will not be served.

In December 2013, the first phase of the rollout begins at four locations that will serve scheduled appointments. As of December 3rd, the TVDL locations are Chicago West, 5301 W. Lexington Ave. and Springfield, 2701 S. Dirksen Pkwy. Starting on December 10, locations at Chicago North, 5401 N. Elston Ave. and Bloomington, 1510 W. Market St. will be open. In January 2014, the second phase of the TVDL rollout will be available for scheduled appointments at 21 additional designated facilities statewide.

On January 27, 2013, Illinois Govern Pat Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 957 which allows the SOS to issue TVDLs to applicants who have resided in Illinois for more than a year but who are not otherwise eligible for a social security number. In order to get a TVDL, an applicant must pass a driver’s test and obtain auto insurance. The TVDL cannot be used as official identification and can be revoked if a license-holder is found without carrying auto insurance. The SOS has provided a “Quick Guide” where people can see which documents and information they need to provide in order to apply for a TVDL.

It is important to note that drivers who have had licenses using other names or social security numbers could be subject to criminal prosecution. Because the state uses facial recognition software, a person who obtained a license in another person’s name could be at risk.

It is estimated that there are 250,000 undocumented immigrants living in Illinois. Further, organizations such as the Highway Safety Coaltion estimate that these unlicensed, uninsured drivers cost Illinois motorists $64 million in damage claims each year. In 2011, the Highway Safety Commission estimated that 42% of all fatal crashes in Illinois involved an unlicensed driver.

I believe that TVDLs are a good thing for all.  I personally believe that requiring and allowing these licenses will bring undocumented people out of the shadows. They are hard workers supporting their families and need valid transportation to travel to work like the rest of us. In addition, having a license and requiring insurance will assist people who are injured during car accidents.  People will not feel the need to escape from the police and emergency personnel when an accident occurs-both parties can exchange insurance information freely. Also, dangerous drivers can be tracked and taken off the road if they are unsafe. Their infractions will be able to be tracked through their SOS driving record like the rest of us.

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