Cars head south on Interstate 25 in Denver during rush hour traffic on on July 23, 2020. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)
Every driver’s license office in Colorado will now offer license and ID card services to undocumented residents and international students, Gov. Jared Polis announced Friday.
In 2013, then-Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act, which made obtaining a standard driver’s license accessible for undocumented immigrants and international students. At the time, only four offices in the state actually provided the service.
Now, on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the bill, the DMV announced all 36 of the state’s driver’s license office locations will offer appointments for immigrants and international students to get a standard license or ID card.
“Here in Colorado, we know that our immigrants strengthen the fabric of who we are,” Polis said at a press conference Friday. “With the bipartisan SB251, over 250,000 Coloradans have been able to get their driver licenses and insurance, making all of us safer on the roads.”
Senate Bill 13-251 was the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act.
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The law allows all Coloradans to obtain a standard driver license or ID card regardless of immigration status if the applicant can provide proof of identity and Colorado residency. However, the ID is not compatible with REAL ID, a federal program that sets minimum security standards for licenses.
The DMV works with several volunteer nonprofits around the state as a part of the I Drive Coalition to help provide Road and Community Safety Act services for undocumented immigrants to obtain standard license or identification cards. Organizations help to schedule free appointments for people who come to them.
Henry Gomez with Grupo Esperanza de Colorado Springs, one of the organizations that supports and provides resources for immigrants, said the legislation is necessary for immigrants in Colorado to do essential daily tasks like driving to the hospital or taking their children to school.
When the bill first passed, it was difficult for people to actually use the service because they had to travel long distances to the few places that offered it and wait hours to schedule an appointment, Gomez said.
The accessibility of the service has changed quite a bit, according to Gomez. Along with more locations, people now can make an appointment online with information also translated into Spanish, he said.
“It’s enormous how it’s changing. It is easier and closer to most Colorado members of the (immigrant) community. It is a huge step,” Gomez said.
1 of 20 states
After the law was passed, the first offices to offer the service were in Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Lakewood and Lakewood Westgate.
Since then, more offices have expanded the opportunity throughout the years. As of Friday, the DMV stated the remaining six offices — in Cañon City, Delta, Lakewood, Meeker, Salida and Steamboat Springs — will now offer the service.
Colorado is one of 20 states, along with Washington D.C., to offer driver’s licenses to undocumented residents. The state was also one of several to pass the legislation allowing it in 2013.
“Colorado has come a long way since the program launched in originally starting in a handful of locations,” DMV spokesperson Stephany Garza told Colorado Newsline. “We’ve been able to grow it throughout the state, thanks to strong demand and a dedication to partner with community organizations and leaders.”
According to a news release from the DMV, the department has issued 252,396 driver’s licenses, ID cards and instruction permits under RCSA.
One of the goals of the RCSA is to make the roads safer by helping to ensure all motorists in the state are licensed and able to obtain vehicle insurance, DMV Senior Director Electra Bustle said in the release.
“The DMV’s mission is to provide motor vehicle, driver and identity services that promote public safety, trust and confidence, and having trained and licensed drivers on our roads is critical,” Bustle said.
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