DMV report: Unlicensed drivers 3 times as likely to cause fatal crashes

DMV report: Unlicensed drivers 3 times as likely to cause fatal crashes »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A new study issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles finds that suspended, revoked and unlicensed drivers are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash than validly licensed drivers.

The largest percentage of suspended, revoked and unlicensed drivers involved in two-vehicle fatal crashes are those aged 20-29.

It's no secret that in California, many unlicensed drivers are also undocumented immigrants. Because of their legal status, undocumented immigrants can't obtain a driver's license. Some cite the DMV study as evidence that the law needs to change in order to make roads safer and reduce fatal crashes.

"With or without a license, the undocumented are going to drive to go to work and support their families," said truck driver Arnulfo Galvan.

Some say if undocumented immigrants are allowed to apply for a license, they would need to take a written exam and driving test, thus familiarizing themselves with the rules of the road.

State Assemblyman Luis Alejo, 30th-Salinas, introduced legislation on Friday that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver's license, as long as they can prove they pay income tax. Alejo cites the DMV study as evidence for the need of changing the law.

But not everyone agrees.

"Rather than accommodating people who are driving illegally, make it clear to them that there are going to be consequences," said Ira Mehlman, with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR.

"There are many things that California can do to discourage people from driving without a license," said Mehlman.

The DMV does not know the number of unlicensed drivers in California because these drivers do not come to the attention of DMV until they are involved in a crash or convicted of a traffic violation.

"The findings did strongly justify the use of counter measures such as vehicle impoundment," said DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez.

"But (the study) didn't go to that next step forward what should we do next,' she said.