Expanding Access to Driver’s Licenses: Good for New York’s Bottom Line & Economy

Green Light NY to Highlight $57m in Annual Government Revenue & $26m in One-Time Windfall at Joint Legislative Budget Hearing

New York Would Join 12 Other States, D.C. & Puerto Rico in Offering Standard Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Residents

ALBANY, NY – By permitting undocumented residents to apply for a standard driver’s license, New York State would realize more than $57 million in annual revenue and an additional one-time windfall of $26 million, according to testimony provided by the Green Light NY coalition to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on Transportation today in Albany.

“New York thrives when it supports policies that build a vibrant, inclusive, welcoming environment for immigrants of all backgrounds.,” said Eddie A. Taveras, New York State Immigration Manager for FWD.us. “There are some 752,000 immigrant New Yorkers age 16 and over who are currently ineligible to become licensed drivers. By issuing licenses to undocumented New York residents, we would not only increase financial stability for families, but also improve public safety for immigrants and citizens alike. The time to adopt the provisions of the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act is now.”

Twelve other states, in addition to Washington DC and Puerto Rico, currently permit undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses, with additional states poised to adopt similar policies.

Based on a 2017 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute, an estimated 265,000 new drivers would bring in a total of $57 million in annual revenue with a one-time revenue windfall of $26 million. New York State would receive $24 million in one-time revenue from license plate and title fees and $28 million in annual revenue from car registration fees combined with gas and sales taxes. The FPI also projects the measure will generate another $8.6 million in annual revenues and $2.2 million in one-time revenue for the MTA from surcharges on car registration, gas tax, and sales tax, and driver’s licenses within the greater metropolitan area. These revenue projections would completely offset the costs of implementing the bill.

More licenses means greater safety for all New York residents on the road because drivers can pass a variety of written knowledge and road tests, become licensed and purchase insurance. For example, since the state of New Mexico passed legislation in 2003 that granted licenses to undocumented residents, the state has experienced significant drops in both its traffic fatality rate and the rate of uninsured vehicles traveling on its roads. Furthermore, expanding access to driver’s licenses will allow law enforcement officers to concentrate on true public safety priorities, instead of wasting time and resources bringing unlicensed drivers to stations for booking.

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