By: Allan M. Siegel
On the first of this year, a new Maryland law permitting undocumented immigrants
to obtain driver's licenses went into effect. The measure, which was
originally signed into law in May by Governor Martin O'Malley, creates
a permanent two-tiered driver's license system. Under the law, illegal
immigrants will be allowed to obtain a second-tier driver's license
if they meet certain requirements, including having filed tax returns
for the previous two years. The driver's licenses will not be recognized
for federal purposes, meaning that they cannot be used to enter federal
buildings or board airplanes.
The new law was passed amid strong support and boisterous opposition, which
included the following arguments:
Support for the Law
Support for the new law was centered on
making Maryland roadways safer. By allowing illegal immigrants the opportunity to obtain a license, they
would have to take written and road tests with the Maryland Motor Vehicle
Administration (MVA). They would also be eligible for insurance coverage.
As uninsured drivers pose such serious threats to the well-being of injured
car accident victims, this was one of the most significant reasons for
passing the law.
Opposition against the Law
Opponents of the new law made arguments from a more comprehensive view
on the immigration debate. Generally, opposition claimed that the measure
would reward immigrants who entered the country illegally and that it
could potentially result in lost opportunities for American citizens and
Protecting Maryland Motorists
In the short time since the law took effect, thousands of undocumented
immigrants have obtained a Maryland drivers' license, making for busy
days at MVAs throughout the state. Whatever arguments may have been had
in the past, the law is here to stay. For many, however, more licensed
and insured drivers make Maryland roads and highways safer.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our Maryland car accident
lawyers advocate for the rights of injured victims by holding negligent
parties accountable for their actions. Having represented many car accidents
victims throughout the years, we have seen just how devastating a case
can be when an at-fault driver is uninsured. The new law may be controversial,
but – as many believe – it was passed with the best interests
of Maryland residents in mind.