Soon illegal immigrants will be able to obtain driving privileges in Illinois

A new law has been passed in Illinois that will allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver's licenses starting December 3, 2013. This means that undocumented immigrants living Illinois will be able to lawfully drive with what is being called a temporary visitor driver's license. This only applies to those who have resided here for more than one year and also can show they do not qualify for a Social Security card.

As the Chicago Tribune reported, in order to utilize a temporary visitor driver's license, undocumented immigrants will have to apply by scheduling appointments in advance at a select group of Illinois Secretary of State offices by calling 855-236-1155 or by going to the Secretary of State website at cyberdriveillinois.com. Applicants will then have to complete the necessary paperwork and perform certain tests. Some of these tests are more personal and arguably invasive than for a traditional license. For instance, the state will "perform a facial recognition search against other databases." Further, like all licensed drivers, they will be required to obtain insurance in order for the license to be valid. The actual license will not be presented to the individual until a later time, possibly almost three weeks later, after all the information has been verified.

It is important to note, these licenses will not constitute personal identification the way a traditional driver's license does nor will they last as long. The license expires after three years. Individuals will not be able to use the temporary visitor driver's license for "boarding a plane, voting or purchasing a gun."

Another aspect of the license that resonates is that while it has been asserted that the applicant's personal information won't be shared as a matter of practice with federal immigration officials, the information could be subpoenaed or passed on as part of investigations. How this will truly impact undocumented individuals is clearly unknown right now.

While these new licenses appear to allow full driving privileges, it is also important to remember that with driving privileges individuals also are subject to the rules of the road and can be ticketed for any violation of the vehicle code, no matter how small. With all the new drivers surely there will be an influx of tickets, and possibly the creation of new offenses as the new license is explored in practice.

If one is to obtain this license it is important to study the rules of the road and drive with caution, being prepared for the benefits as well as the negatives of driving.

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