Pennsylvania should ensure that all drivers are trained, tested, licensed, insured and accountable for their driving records. Currently, residents of Pennsylvania who wish to obtain a driver’s license must provide proof of lawful status in the United States. This requirement excludes many residents who live and work in the state. A lack of a driver’s license restricts people’s ability to accomplish basic daily tasks like going to work, to the grocery store, dropping kids off at school, or fully participating in civic and community life.
Providing access to licenses for all drivers in Pennsylvania would promote:
Safety and accountability
Licensing all drivers promotes safer roads in our state. Police will be able to use licenses to identify motorists during stops and check their traffic records. First responders and health care providers will be able to use the license to identify the individuals they are assisting. Drivers will be more likely to stay at the scene of an accident to aid police and emergency workers and to exchange insurance information with other affected motorists. Courts and jails would be less burdened by drivers who are there solely for driving without a license or insurance.
Newly licensed drivers will be able to secure insurance, reducing the cost of covering accidents involving uninsured motorists and potentially reducing insurance rates for everyone. Unlike other uninsured drivers, unlicensed immigrants lack insurance not because they will not buy coverage, but because they cannot buy coverage when they do not have a valid license.
Workers with a driver’s license will be in a better position to support their families, to spend, and to contribute to the state’s economy. Studies conducted in other states found that, as a result of not having a valid driver’s license, immigrant community members have trouble scheduling hours at work and accomplishing basis daily tasks like going to the grocery store. Immigrants without access to driver’s licenses restricted their activities at church and community groups and reduced their large consumer purchases.
Basic human rights
The right to mobility, to move freely, is inscribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many other fundamental needs — to work, to education, and to human dignity — are only accessible via valid identification and adequate transportation.
Driving PA Forward, the campaign for legislation in Pennsylvania to allow access to driver’s licenses for all is coordinated by PICC members, Movement of Immigrant Leaders in PA (MILPA), and New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia (NSM).