Tallahassee, FL – Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) and Sen. José Javier Rodríguez (D-Miami) have filed HB 1451/SB 1856, legislation that would ensure all Floridians have access to a state-issued driver’s license. This legislation mirrors laws passed in fifteen other states, along with Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, by simply expanding the list of secure and authenticated documents the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may use to affirm an individual’s identity when issuing a state driver’s license.
The expanded list of documents include a consular identification document, passport issued by a foreign government, birth certificate issued by a foreign government, a driver’s license issued by a foreign government, along with school documents, court documents, and marriage documents. These drivers licenses are to safely and legally drive, they are not for federal use, such as flying or voting. Passage of this legislation will enhance public safety, decrease insurance rates, and foster economic prosperity for Florida businesses and workers.
Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith offered the following statement:
“This legislation ensures that all Floridians have the opportunity to be trained, licensed, and insured to drive. An estimated 685,000 undocumented Floridians are currently unable to get car insurance because state law prohibits them from obtaining driver licenses. Expanding license access to safe drivers increases public safety, reduces accidents with uninsured motorists and brings down insurance premiums. HB 1451 will also bring $68.6 million in new revenue to the state, grow the economy through vehicle sales and reduce barriers to economic prosperity for hardworking residents.”
Undocumented Floridians already contribute $573 million to Florida’s tax base and generate $1.4 billion in business income. However, according to a report by the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute, expanding driver’s licenses for all would generate $68.6 million in new state revenue through driver’s license and tag, title, and registration fees, along with sales tax on thousands of additional automobile sales. If passed, this legislation would not only ensure undocumeted Floridians have the opportunity to be trained, licensed, and insured; these state-issued driver’s license would be available to any Floridian who may struggle to find the current list of necessary documents, or who seeks a non-REAL ID to drive in Florida.
Importantly, this data could not be used for immigration enforcement. HB 1451 provides provisions ensuring data privacy and protection modeled after that passed in other states. Currently, fifteen states along with Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have passed similar legislation, most recently this past December in New Jersey.