PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee was joined by Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, bill sponsors Representative Karen Alzate and Senator Frank A. Ciccone and Representative Anastasia Williams to sign legislation granting driving privilege cards and permits to undocumented Rhode Islanders. The bill signing ceremony took place at the Division of Motor Vehicles in Cranston, the agency that will be issuing the cards or permits.
"This is an important issue for our economy, equality, and public safety," said Governor McKee. "By granting every Rhode Islander of driving age the opportunity to safely and legally drive a vehicle, we are allowing them to further their education and career – which in turn benefits the entire state. That means more workers will have access to more jobs and opportunities that keep Rhode Island's momentum going. This legislation will make our roads safer, and our economy stronger, and I am proud to sign it into law. I thank the legislative sponsors and countless advocates who worked for years to make this happen."
The legislation (2022-S 2006Aaa, 2022-H 7939A), sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) and Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), Chairwoman of the RI Legislative Black and Latino Caucus, allows the Division of Motor Vehicles to issue driving privileges to undocumented residents in the state who meet certain criteria. The legislation requires that applicants have verification from the tax administrator that they have filed a personal income tax return as a Rhode Island resident for the tax year preceding the date of application, or have been claimed as a dependent on a personal income tax return by an individual who has filed a personal income tax return as a Rhode Island resident for that year. The applicant is also required to present two primary proof of identity documents, or one primary proof of identity document and one secondary proof of identity document, and two proof of residency documents. The applicant also must be in compliance with insurance requirements.
"The reasons to make this investment are numerous, well-documented, and supported by facts," said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. "However, just as compelling as that data is the matter of equity that we address by signing this bill. Soon, 29,000 taxpaying Rhode Islanders will be given legal safe access to our roads. Thank you to the bill's sponsors and all of the community leaders who got us to this momentous day."
"The community of color has long advocated for the passage of this legislation that will keep our roads safer while also helping a portion of our population who struggle daily due to not being able to drive a car to work, or to pick up their kids, or to go about their daily business. This bill acknowledges that individuals with undocumented status are still human beings who deserve the same services and protections that documented residents enjoy and utilize," said Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), Chairwoman of the RI Legislative Black and Latino Caucus.
"We need to ensure that all drivers, regardless of their immigration status, are trained, tested and insured when driving on our roads. This is a safety issue as well as an economic issue. If the worst were to happen and an accident occurs involving an undocumented person driving, our residents and businesses are protected far better if this legislation is enacted as opposed to the status quo," said Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence).
Neither the permit nor card would be usable for federal or state identification or voting purposes.
Under current law, Rhode Islanders who do not have a lawful presence in the United States are unable to provide the documentation, such as a Social Security number, that is required to receive a driver's license.
The law goes into effect on July 1, 2023.