The Safe and Responsible Driver Act, better known as Assembly Bill 60 (California AB 60), was signed into law in 2013. Beginning January 1, 2015, immigrants without legal immigration status will be able to apply for a California driver license under AB 60.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) estimates that roughly 1.4 million undocumented immigrants will eventually apply for the privilege of driving. The DMV has been hiring new employees and opening up temporary facilities to process the wave of applications.
Requirements for undocumented immigrants’ California AB 60 driver license will be the same as everyone else, but the cards will look a little bit different. On the front, it will say “Federal Limits Apply.” On the back, it will read, “This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes.” The modified card can only be used as a license to drive.
DMV officials believe a licensed driver is a safer driver. “Our commitment is to successfully implement this law to increase safety on California roads and protect the high level of security in our licensing and identity verification process,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “Californians planning to apply for a new driver license under AB 60 should study for their exams and gather the required documents for proving identity and residency.”
In fact all immigrants, regardless of status, had access to a California driver license up until 1994. Effective January 1, 1994, a Social Security number was required to apply for a driver license. When the driving privilege was revoked, it left many immigrants in the difficult position of trying commute to work and run errands while still complying with the law.
California AB 60 Document Requirements
Candidates for a California driver license must provide proof of identity and proof of California residency if they do not have satisfactory proof of legal presence. Here’s how you can be ready to apply for a California AB 60 driver license:
Proof of Identity
As a candidate for a driver license, you must provide proof of identity. Examples of documents that may be accepted include: certain passports, state identification cards and a combination of documents, including a passport. If you cannot provide these primary documents, a secondary review may be available. If given the opportunity for a secondary review, you will need to provide as much evidence as possible to prove your identity. Secondary review documents include: school records, DHS records, court documents and income tax returns. The DMV will review the documents to make a determination. A complete list of approved Proof of Identity documents is available from the California DMV – Download AB 60 Document Options for California Driver License.
Proof of California Residency
Candidates must also provide proof of residency in California. In other words, you must prove that you live in California. Examples of documents that may be accepted include: rental agreements, utility bills, school documents, medical documents, employment records and tax returns. A complete list of approved Proof of Residency documents is available from the California DMV – Download AB 60 Document Options for California Driver License.
How to Prepare for California AB 60
Prospective AB 60 applicants should prepare. Almost 90 percent of undocumented immigrants failed the written exam when Nevada enacted a similar law. The California DMV has provided several resources to help applicants prepare and successfully pass the tests.
Attend a Workshop
Read the Handbook
Take Practice Tests
The DMV website offers practice tests to help you prepare. You can even use an iPhone or Android app to take practice tests. Search “DMV Now” in your mobile device app store.
How to Apply for a Driver License under AB 60
Gather Your Documents
Before making your appointment, make sure you are ready. Gather the required documents to prove your identity and California residency as described above in “Document Requirements.” Or download the DMV’s AB 60 Document Options for California Driver License.
Study for the Test
It is very important to study California driving laws before making your appointment. The DMV provides a free handbook and practice tests in several languages. Find both in How to Prepare for California AB 60.
Schedule an Appointment
You will have a much shorter wait at the DMV if you schedule an appointment online. Walk-ins are only accepted at the DMV’s four Driver License Processing Centers. Make sure your appointment date is AFTER January 1, 2015. You cannot obtain a license until after that date.
Complete a Driver License Application
You will need to complete a driver license application (DL 44) at the DMV office. Here is a sample so that you know what to expect.
Take the tests. Upon passing a written and vision test, applicants will take a behind-the-wheel test. If they pass all tests, they will get a driver license.
Avoid AB 60 Scams
The DMV has recently warned prospective AB 60 applicants to beware of scams. According to the DMV, here are some tips on how to avoid driver license scams:
- Do not pay for help with driver license applications: DMV has free assistance and free appointments at your local DMV office, so do not pay for these services. Driver license handbooks and practice tests are available in many languages free of charge. If you need an interpreter, call 1-800-777-0133 and indicate the foreign language.
- Do not pay fees to anyone except DMV: It only costs $33 to obtain a California driver license and this fee must be paid directly to DMV. Do not pay anyone except DMV.
- The fast way to get a license is to make a free appointment at DMV: The DMV will not issue licenses under AB 60 before January 2, 2015, and anyone who says they can get a license earlier than January 2, 2015, is lying.
- Do not waste money on unnecessary document translation: Of the dozens of ways an applicant can prove identity, only three require an English translation: (1) A marriage decree written in another language; (2) a divorce decree written in another language; or (3) the Apostille authentication of a foreign birth certificate. No other documents require translation. Here is the complete list of documents (PDF) applicants can use to proof identity under California AB 60.
California AB 60 Frequently Asked Questions
How much will it cost for an AB 60 driver license?
A California AB 60 driver license for undocumented drivers will have the same cost as a normal driver license– $33. Undocumented drivers will also be required to carry auto insurance.
Who is eligible for the California AB 60 driver license?
Anybody, regardless of immigration status, that meets the basic requirements under California law, can apply for a driver license. Applicants without legal immigration status will need to provide documentation that proves identity and California residency. See California AB 60 Document Requirements above.
Where can I get additional help applying for an AB 60 driver license?
The Drive California (CA) coalition is a statewide coalition of immigrants’ rights advocates, community-based organizations, service providers, faith-based organizations and workers’ rights advocates that is assisting AB 60 driver license applicants. You can reach them at driveca.org.
When can I schedule an appointment for an AB 60 driver license?
You may schedule an appointment now using DMV’s online appointment scheduler. Remember, schedule the appointment after January 1, 2015. You cannot obtain a license until after that date.
Where do I apply for the California AB 60 driver license?
The best way to apply for an AB 60 driver license is to schedule an appointment online. Walk-in appointments are NOT available at most DMV locations. You can only walk-in at one of the four DMV Driver License Processing Centers.
Can I get help if I don’t know English?
The DMV provides interpreters, including American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, at no cost to applicants. When scheduling an appointment, ask for an interpreter in your desired language.
Are the driver license tests in English?
The written test is offered in a number of different languages. The test can also be provided in an audio format or in an interview with a DMV examiner, by request. However, interpreters are not permitted for the driving test. You will need to be able to respond to driving instructions given in English, including pointing to safety features of your vehicle and performing the required driving maneuvers.
What questions are on the driving test?
You can find sample test questions and even practice interactive tests on the DMV AB 60 website.
Where can I get help obtaining a birth certificate?
If you cannot find documents from your home country, the best place to start is typically your home country’s consulate in the United States. Mexican nationals can get low-cost assistance obtaining civil documents (such as birth certificates) directly from MATT.
Should I use an AB 60 driver license with law enforcement?
Yes. If you are asked for a driver license by a police officer at a traffic stop, you should provide it. However, state and local law enforcement agents may not discriminate against someone because he or she holds or presents an AB 60 license, and are prohibited from using AB 60 licenses “to consider an individual’s citizenship or immigration status as a basis for investigation, arrest, citation or detention.”
Will the information I provide to the DMV be confidential?
The documents you provide to the DMV to prove your identity, name, residency, and age are not a public record, and the DMV may not disclose this information, except when requested by a law enforcement agency as part of an investigation.
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