Clearing the confusion on driver authorization cards

LAS VEGAS - Driver authorization cards don't require a birth certificate or U.S. passport in order for you to get a permit to drive in Nevada.

The program has been in place for a few years, but there are a lot of misconceptions.

Many foreign countries have laws that require you to get an international driving permit in order to drive a vehicle while you're overseas.

The driver authorization card in Nevada is similar but more stringent than many of those programs. It allows undocumented immigrants to drive legally in the state.

For the last three years, Nevada has had an additional permit for drivers who may or may not be U.S. citizens called the driver authorization card.

"For a standard drivers license you have to have things like a birth certificate or passport. A driver authorization card has different requirements and we accept different documents for them," said Kevin Malone, DMV.

While the written and driving tests to get the card are the same as a standard drivers license, the implications are not.

It is not a valid form of identification and it doesn't imply you're a U.S. citizen. It doesn't provide an easy pathway to citizenship or allow you to vote.

In just three years, the program has grown to more than 37,000 people and while the DMV doesn't track immigration status, many of those who apply for the card in Nevada are undocumented immigrants. That has sparked fear by some that being in the database could lead to deportation, but DMV officials say that's not the case.

"There is a specific law that the DMV driver license and driver authorization card records cannot be used for immigration enforcement purposes," Malone said.

The law was written with an emphasis for safety on the roadways and DMV officials say that remains the focus.

"If you want to apply for a drivers authorization card you can do so without fear of being arrested or deported as long as you're being honest," Malone said.

DMV officials also say they haven't noticed any drop off in valid card holders despite the immigration debate in our country.


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