Newly licensed motorist: ‘I can drive without fear’

Marie Catinella (left), a motor vehicle field representative at the DMV office in Hollister helps Luz Adriana Galvan (right) apply for her license under the new law, AB-60.

To get a license under the new law, Hollister resident Gabriela Flores used her Gavilan College student identification card and other documents to apply.
A law effective Jan. 1 means those who prove identity, California residency and pass tests can secure a driver’s license without having to prove legal U.S. residency.
For the first time, people across the state like Flores, a 14-year resident of Hollister, could apply for the right to drive legally under AB-60.
“I can drive without fear,” said Flores, 33, in Spanish as she waited at the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ Hollister office on 80 N. Sally St. to apply for an AB-60 driver’s license.
Jose Guardran, 38, lauded the benefits of the AB-60 licenses for the community as he went through the process of getting his yearly license plate registration sticker in the Hollister office.
 “I’m happy because everyone can have licenses, permits,” he said in Spanish.
The law—authored by local Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas—allows an undocumented person to secure a license that grants full driving privileges without issuing the user a form of federal identification.
“There have been studies—particularly one by the DMV—that said unlicensed drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents,” said a representative of Alejo’s office. “What we’re aiming to do is educate all these unlicensed drivers.”
On Jan. 2—just one day after the law went into effect—17,200 people applied for an AB-60 license, according to the DMV website. The Hollister office reported 115 applicants for driver’s licenses under AB-60, according to numbers pulled by Jessica Gonzalez from the DMV’s office of public affairs and media relations. By the end of the day, 970 AB-60 licenses were awarded statewide.
The influx of people hoping to secure a license caused some DMV offices to hold Saturday hours by appointment exclusively for driver’s license transactions. While Hollister was not one of these offices, Salinas, San Jose and Fremont opened their doors to serve extra visitors.
“I hear on the radio that 50 percent of the people doing the test don’t pass,” said Hollister resident Manuel Mora, 53, as he visited the Hollister DMV waiting room last week to secure his license plate registration sticker.
Of driver’s license applicants taking the test for the first time Jan. 2, the DMV reported 54 percent of those who took the exam in English passed while 36 percent of those who took it in Spanish got the same results.
To accommodate applicants whose first languages aren’t English, the DMV offers the driver’s license test and handbook in multiple languages. The DMV website is also available in Spanish and English.
Applicants of the AB-60 license can use identification cards or passports from other countries paired with records such as income tax returns and augmented by documents proving California residency to secure a license.
The AB-60 licenses—unlike traditional ones—aren’t federal forms of identification. A holder of a AB-60 license will have all the same rights to state roads as traditional license holders but won’t be able to use their cards to enter government buildings restricted to U.S. citizens or board planes.
“That’s probably the biggest difference, is we can use the driver’s license—those of use that are (U.S.) residents—as identification,” said Jaime Garza, a spokesman for DMV. “It’s just a privilege to drive on the roads legally now.”
Inside the Hollister office last week, a few driver’s license applicants took the test on touch screen computers. Applicants had the chance to tap a button for Spanish or English before starting the written exam.
“It’s good,” said Flores in Spanish, as she reflected on the law, which will let her legally chauffeur her 10-year-old daughter to school without fear.

Leave your comments