Safer Iowa Roads with Temporary Driver’s Cards for Eligible Immigrants

We support a change in the law to allow for issuing a temporary two-year “driver’s card” which would be given after a person undergoes testing, gets mandatory insurance and after proving identity and Iowa residence. As long as those safeguards are met and information is verifiable, this temporary licensing promotes law enforcement goals for public safety:

  • Our roadway safety would be improved for all by ensuring that all drivers get tested on their driving skills, know the rules of the road, and have access to insurance. People driving without licenses are more likely to be involved in accidents, and more likely to flee from the scene of traffic accidents.
  • The Iowa DOT database is used as a crime-fighting tool, to serve summons and execute warrants. Adding the thousands of people who will be eligible for temporary driving cards will expand that database, and allow for correct identification and apprehension of criminals in our communities.
  • First responders, health care providers, and crime victim advocates would be able to use the license to identify the individuals they are assisting.

Thirteen jurisdictions (eleven states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico) already offer some form of driver’s card to immigrants. These cards, which are compliant with federal REAL ID requirements, are visually distinct from other licenses. Proposals for temporary driver's cards make clear that no one can use a driver's card to register to vote, or to actually vote, apply for public benefits, apply for a Firearm Owner ID card, board an airplane, or enter a federal building.

In Iowa, immigrants who are residents in our communities, but who don’t have a social security number would have to meet certain requirements including:

  1. Passing a driver’s test and demonstrate knowledge of rules of the road.
  2. Providing proof of established Iowa residency.
  3. Providing proof of identification.
  4. Obtaining and carrying proof of auto insurance.

We believe that making a driver’s card available to immigrants in our state will help make Iowa’s roads safer by getting everyone tested, licensed and insured. And that is something that will benefit every single Iowan.

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