The Work and Family Mobility Act will allow those without proof of lawful presence or legal immigration status to finally obtain valid driving privileges, which will allow them to legally drive in Massachusetts. This legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2023. This will give the Registry of Motor Vehicles time to make arrangements for testing and licensure.
Previously, many of these drivers were the recipients of Complaint Fraudulent License and indefinite immediate threat suspensions. Once the Work and Family Mobility Act is signed into law, they will be able to appeal their suspensions and obtain the right to legally drive.
After a 20-year political battle, Massachusetts will be the 17th state to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driving privileges.
Federal immigration status will no longer be required to apply for a non-real ID license, which cannot be used for voter registration. Two valid forms of identification must be presented and applicants must prove Massachusetts residency to the Registry’s satisfaction. Once approved, applicants must take and pass written and road tests.
Both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Senate have approved similar versions of the legislation. The Bill will go to the House of Representatives for further debate. The Massachusetts Major City Police Chiefs Association supports the legislation.
Governor Baker strongly opposes the legislation, but it has enough support to withstand any veto. The new law will ensure that these drivers are properly identified, trained, licensed, and insured. Many of these drivers lived in constant fear of being cited for unlicensed operation and operating after suspension. Also, some believe that their lack of valid driving privileges would encourage them to leave the scene of car accidents because they feared arrest, prosecution, and deportation.
There will be no collection or documentation of immigration status and no reporting to federal authorities of those who apply for these driver’s licenses.
Groups such as the ALCU and the Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition have strongly supported the passage of this legislation.