Driving Privilege Cards set for Delaware undocumented immigrants

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Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles Director Scott Vien shows an image of the Driving Privilege Card that will be issued to undocumented Delaware residents who entered the country illegally. The card will be considered a valid driver’s license that the DMV issues for driving purposes only within the state. Fee for the license is $20. It will be valid for four years. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Starting Dec. 27 undocumented immigrants living in Delaware will be eligible for a Driving Privilege Card (DPC) as Senate Bill 59 goes into effect.

The bill, signed by Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, in June, makes the First State one of only 10 in the nation to make the driving permits available.

It allows for “undocumented immigrants,” as the text states, to gain a permit separate from a driver’s license.

This card, known as a driving privilege card, cannot be used for identification and is intended to allow individuals unlawfully living in Delaware to gain insurance and learn the rules of the road.

The permit and license will bear the distinct verbiage “Driving Privilege Only” and “Not Valid for Identification” in red on its face, according to the DMV. The photo will be surrounded by a red box containing the verbiage “Privilege.”

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Delaware Division of Revenue director Patrick Carter was on hand at DMV Administration Office in Dover Friday morning with other agencies to explain the Driving Privilege Card application process. Division of Motor Vehicles, State Police & Division of Revenue each have a role in Driving Privilege Card application.

“We studied what the other states have done, what’s worked and what hasn’t, to develop our own program,” said Scott Vien, director of the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Although the cards are provided by the DMV, applicants must have various documents in order before applying for their card.

The first step is fingerprinting by the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) for a fee of $52.50 followed by obtaining a Certificate of Filing Compliance from the Department of Revenue proving the individual has filed Delaware taxes within the last two years. The document can be obtained real-time at no charge at revenue.delaware.gov.

Both the fingerprinting and tax documents need to be secured before an appointment can be made at the DMV.

“One of the main challenges is that there are an unknown number of individuals who will be new to the DMV, so the best way to ensure they are seen while avoiding unnecessary wait times is to schedule appointments in advance,” Mr. Vien said.

Before scheduling an appointment, applicants should clear all prior traffic citations.

In addition to fingerprinting and tax report, applicants must bring two forms of proof of Delaware residency, proof of name and date of birth (can come from a passport or foreign birth certificate officially translated into English) and $20 for the application fee.

But the application doesn’t end once all the required paperwork is submitted — just like any other new driver, the applicant must pass a written test before a permit is given.

Study resources including practice tests are available online in five different languages and the written test may be taken the day of the DMV appointment.

The new driver will need to follow the same rules as teens driving with a permit such as having a licensed driver in the car until a road test is taken — no less than 10 days and no more than six months after the written test is passed.

The driving privilege cards are valid for four years and can be renewed at the DMV like a regular license. If a card holder obtains citizenship, a federally compliant license can be obtained through the DMV at any time with proof of citizenship.

Mr. Vien said that the card has a different color scheme to distinguish it from a federally compliant license or identification card. The DPC can be easily distinguished from other forms of ID and the police have been trained to recognize them.

“This is new to all agencies involved but we are close to finalizing all regulatory changes,” Mr. Vien said. “Right now we are working on outreach to get the word out so people in need of the DPC are aware when the service becomes available.”

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