Guide to the Issues: Driver's License Policy

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Guide to the Issues: Driver’s License Policy

This report is part of our multi-part 2014 Citizen’s Guide to the Issues and ALEC in New Mexico.   Learn more about the report or jump to other sections with the links below.

Read the full guide with more issues here

Guide to the Issues: Status of Women in New Mexico
Guide to the Issues: Minimum Wage & Income Inequality
Guide to the Issues: Driver’s License Policy
Guide to the Issues: ALEC IN NEW MEXICO
Guide to the Issues: ALEC-member corporate lobbyists in New Mexico
Guide to the Issues: ALEC Dollars in the Roundhouse

Since New Mexico first began issuing licenses to resident undocumented immigrants in 2010:

•  Eight others states, districts and territories have followed our lead issuing similar licenses:

  • Colorado, Nevada, Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, California, Oregon, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Illinois.
  • Four other states passed similar legislation in 2013 with implementation coming in 2014

Since 2011, New Mexico’s MVD has enacted new procedures for identifying irregular documents and license applications.  

  • MVD has used the numerous tools the legislature has given it to effectively catch and punish those who would game the system and commit fraud.
  • Public news reports show that MVD credits these procedures with safeguarding our license system from fraud.

REAL ID was passed by Congress in 2005 and establishes mandatory standards governing state issuance of secure driver’s licenses and identification cards.

  • There is currently no deadline by which states must come into compliance with REAL ID and the law is not currently in effect. Only 13 states are currently in compliance, and the Department of Homeland Security has issued compliance “deferments” to the remaining states, including New Mexico. (FIR, 2013 HB132).

The current law improves public safety and provides tools for law enforcement

  • Victims and witness are more likely to call the police and participate in investigations.  Victims also need a valid ID to go to court and request restraining orders.
  • Licensed immigrants are more likely to stay and render aid at the scene of an accident.
  • During stops or investigations, police can quickly identify immigrants and check their record without having to examine documents in foreign languages. This makes officers safer and more efficient.
  • Local, state and federal law enforcement can track outstanding warrants, repeat offenders, child support delinquents, and citations of immigrant drivers.

All law enforcement, including federal immigration agents, can access MVD records to obtain photos, information, and last known addresses for individuals with outstanding arrest warrants.