About half a million Californians have applied for a driver’s license under Assembly Bill 60 since its enforcement on Jan. 2, doubling the projection of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in 2013, allows any California resident to apply for a driver’s license regardless of immigration status. According to advocacy group Drive California, all immigrants were able to obtain a driver's license in the state until 1994, when that right was revoked. That led to tickets, arrests, and deportations.
"The interest in this program is far greater than anybody anticipated," DMV Spokesman Jaime Garza told KPCC. "We projected receiving about a half million applications by July of this year, but we've already reached that level."
To prepare for the demand, the department hired 900 additional employees and added office hours, including on Saturdays.
About 91 percent of the applicants are providing the necessary identity and residency documents to obtain a license with out any further review Garza says. He shared that around 200,000 licenses have already been issued.
"All DMV employees working on AB 60 applications went through sensitivity training for working with our diverse communities," Garza says. "They are receiving additional training as well on topics that include document review, fraud detection, verification methods."
Garza says the wait times at the DMV are consistent with wait times before AB 60 went into effect. With an appointment, DMV customers are currently waiting an average of 11 minutes and an average of 30 minutes without one.