Targeting undocumented immigrants, Florida bans certain out-of-state driver licenses

by | Jul 6, 2023



  • Five states’ driver’s license categories are no longer recognized in Florida under a new law targeting licenses obtained by undocumented immigrants.
  • The law prohibits driver’s licenses for those without evidence of legal residence in the US, leading to potential legal consequences for traffic stops involving nullified licenses.
  • Critics argue the law is overly harsh and will negatively impact families relying on out-of-state licenses, while supporters believe it strengthens homeland security and deters criminal activities.

Under a new law that came into effect this past weekend, five states’ driver’s license categories are no longer recognized in Florida.

Governor Ron DeSantis, who is already officially a candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, announced Wednesday that the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has issued a catalog of license types, issued by other states, that are now considered void. The law targets licenses obtained in Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Hawaii, states where undocumented immigrants can secure valid driving credentials despite not having legal citizenship status.

Senate Bill 1718 bars the issuance of driver’s licenses to those unable to show evidence of legal residence in the United States. Traffic stops that involve any of the nullified licenses can result in legal consequences.

The Florida branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has dubbed the law an expansive anti-immigrant measure.

“An individual in this country illegally, having violated our statutes, shouldn’t hold a government-issued ID that grants them access to state-funded benefits and other rights designated for lawful inhabitants,” DeSantis said in a press release. “While the Biden administration may persist in failing its obligations to guard our border, Florida remains committed to enforcing the law.

Critics say the law is too harsh, and will hurt families that rely on the out of state driver licenses to get to their jobs. Now, Democrats say, many are in limbo and are unsure what to do.

“We’ve been getting a lot of emails from Floridians who are trying to interpret the law for their own safety and for the safety of their loved ones. We’ve had folks contact us because their partner is undocumented,” said Democratic State Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents Florida’s 42nd House district. “We’ve gotten a lot of these questions that are really unique and situationally specific but intersect with confusion about this policy. Are they going to be able to drive to work anymore?”

But supporters say that the law is working exactly as its supposed to, by making Florida less attractive for non-citizens.

“This law aligns with our two main objectives: bolstering homeland security and thwarting criminal activities,” said Dave Kerner, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. “It articulates our state policy that Florida won’t offer incentives to illegal immigrants, while signaling to criminal gangs and those intending to illicitly cross our national boundary that Florida shouldn’t be their preferred destination.”

The proscribed licenses and their categories include:

• Those licenses from Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont, earmarked with disclaimers stating their ineligibility for federal identification.

• Hawaiian limited-purpose and limited-purpose provisional driver’s licenses and instruction permits deemed not suitable for federal purposes.

“Florida will reject driver licenses from individuals unable to substantiate lawful U.S. residence,” said Kerner. “By taking this stance, we commit to a safer Florida.”

The Highway Patrol noted the list may also undergo occasional revisions in response to legislative changes and actions by other states.

“This bill is about ensuring safety and security. By enforcing it, we guarantee that individuals we interact with are who they claim to be and are entitled to enjoy all that our state has to offer,” . Our priority is public safety and community protection. We are wholly dedicated to furthering these objectives.”

As of July 1, 2023, details regarding non-Floridian license categories that are invalid in Florida have been made public. However, this list may be amended periodically due to changes in driver’s license issuance prerequisites in other states.

 

9 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Keep Florida free

  2. CaptTurbo

    Proud and grateful to be a Florida resident! Thanks Gov DeSantis!

  3. Deborah Coffey

    For those of us who are woke…who still love democracy…is it possible to name any laws that Ron DeSantis has signed that are FOR people instead of AGAINST them? He is excellent at singling out groups he hates to please the base that also hates them but, who is he FOR? My car insurance doubled. My house insurance doubled. My water bill went up. My FP&L bill went up. I can’t sue my insurance companies without jumping through a thousand hoops. If my granddaughters have a problem pregnancy, they’ll die. My Black friends won’t vote because they’ll be greeted at the polls by the terrorist “election police.” If I try to register more young voters and make a mistake, I’m going to jail. Who is working Florida’s farms since the immigrants have been chased out by hateful threats from the governor? America is catching on. The good American people don’t EVER want to be in a state that hates as much as Florida. Oh, and now they’re wondering is Ron DeeSantis is gay because that ad he put out practically put him in that community!

    • Roberta Plamondon

      Maybe you need to move

      • Deborah Coffey

        You wish. I’m registering 500 new Democrats to vote as are ten of my friends. We’re staying and voting the FASCISTS out! We actually like democracy. Maybe you should think about becoming Russia.

        • Anonymous

          You prefer a Chinese Communist controlled government – forget capitalism!

    • Anonymous

      BS

  4. wjtinfwb

    Not really a big change from current law, which is;

    You may be considered a resident of Florida when you:

    Have started employment or engaged in a trade, profession, or occupation in this state.
    Have enrolled your children in the public schools of this state.
    Have registered to vote in this state.
    Have filed for homestead tax exemption on property in this state.
    Have lived in this state for a period of more than six consecutive months.
    As a new Florida resident, you must obtain a valid Florida driver license within 30 days of establishing residency to drive on Florida roads. In addition, you must obtain insurance from a Florida insurance agent that is licensed to sell insurance in Florida in order to title and register your vehicle(s), vessel(s), and mobile home(s) within 10 days of establishing residency.

    So… if you’re working here, you have 30 days to get a FL license and follow Florida laws.

  5. Tarno_inz

    From the article: “by making Florida less attractive for non-citizens.”
    This needs to be corrected as the issue at hand is not citizenship but illegal residency. There are plenty of legal residents in the USA who are not citizens and are welcome to visit and reside.

 

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