Undocumented immigrants in Nevada can now drive legally.
The Silver State became the latest in the nation on Thursday when a new law took effect allowing undocumented individuals to obtain a driver authorization card, which allows them to drive legally under the state statute.
Nevada is the latest in a group of 11 states that allow immigrants to drive in some form. Early estimates predict as many as 60,000 immigrants in Nevada are expected to apply for the cards.
Despite widespread criticism of the driving card law, there were no protests across the state Thursday, although some of the offices in Las Vegas became so crowded that DMV halted written tests, said DMV spokesman Kevin Malone in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The goal of the licenses is twofold: The state will receives millions of dollars in increase revenue, but also make the roads safer as the drivers must provide proof of insurance as well as pass a driver’s test. These licenses must also be renewed on an annual basis.
Politicians who supported the bill, including its co-author, Mo Denis, a Democratic state senator from Las Vegas, said the card is something Nevada “desperately needed” in the absence of federal immigration reform that would legalize the estimated tens of thousands of residents who have lived in Nevada for years.
“They’re already driving, so why not ensure that they already know the laws?” said Denis, the Senate majority leader. “We need to ensure that our roads are safe. This benefits everyone in Nevada, not just the people getting the cards. While we might not have control over federal laws, we certainly have control over our own laws as Nevadans and everyone in time will see that this is a good thing.”