28,000 seek driver's licenses in first days of new immigrant law

The Granada Hills location is one of four new processing centers opened by the DMV to serve first-time applicants.
The Granada Hills location is one of four new processing centers opened by the DMV to serve first-time applicants. Josie Huang/KPCC

Under a new law allowing immigrant drivers living in the state illegally to apply for drivers licenses, preliminary statistics show that the California Department of Motor Vehicles received 17,200 applications from immigrants on Friday and another 11,100 on Saturday, according to spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez, for a total of just over 28,000.

Sixty of the DMV's 173 offices stayed open on Saturday to accommodate the expected flood of applicants. Wait times "were long," the DMV's Gonzalez told KPCC. "We definitely weren't focused on wait times on Friday and Saturday; really, it was trying to service the thousands of people who came through our doors."

Gonzalez said that the DMV expected appointments to last 20 minutes, but the average time was 27 minutes, with some going much longer.

Offices around the state saw long lines, and the trend may continue: the DMV predicts that 1.4 million immigrants could seek licenses under the new law, known as AB 60. The agency hired 900 new employees in the months before AB 60 took effect, on Jan. 1, and opened four new processing centers to handle first-time applicants, including one in Granada Hills.

In a release, the DMV indicated it would release statistics on AB 60 license registrations on Tuesdays.

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