Las Vegas Sun

August 30, 2014

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Las Vegas Sol:

Applications for driver’s authorization cards remain brisk

830 cards and permits issued in the first week

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Steve Marcus

People head into the Department of Motor Vehicles office on East Sahara Avenue Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. DMV offices were busier than usual Thursday as many undocumented immigrants applied for Nevada Driver Authorization cards. Applications for the new card, which will allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally in Nevada, began today.

After a week of taking applications, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has issued 830 driver's authorization cards and learner's permits.

Since the DMV launched the program on Jan. 2, 3,200 people have taken the written test for the cards, which last year were approved by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval. While 57 percent of driver's license applicants fail the written test, 67 percent of the driver's authorization card applicants have failed the written test.

The success rate on the driving test has been significantly higher, with more than three-quarters of applicants passing.

"We are seeing a few early trends," DMV director Troy Dillard said in a statement. "Test scores are improving on the retests and the applicants are doing better on the driving test than they are on the written test."

During the first three days of the program, the DMV scored approximately 500 driver's authorization card written tests each day across the state. At some DMV offices applicants were turned away as long lines formed early in the day, and the capacity for administering test was met well before closing time. Some people have been turned away because the lacked the necessary documentation.

The driver's authorization card is for immigrants and others who cannot sufficiently prove their identity to meet the requirements for a driver's license, which can be used for federal purposes. To obtain a Nevada driver's license, proof of identity — such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or current immigration documents — must be presented.

Consular identification cards issued by foreign governments, foreign birth certificates and border-crossing cards are not valid forms of identification for a license. Under the new law, applicants who were born outside the United States may show a foreign passport, birth certificate or consular identification card to obtain a Nevada driver's authorization card.

"The intent of the driver's authorization card program is to have drivers who are better informed and more knowledgeable about the rules of the road. "That is happening," Dillard said. "There is a learning curve for people not familiar with the rules of the road, and those applying for the DAC are in a learning mode."

The program closely mirrors a similar driver's privilege card offered in Utah. The Nevada DMV has estimated that 60,000 people will apply for the cards, which must be renewed annually, and they will collect an additional $250,000 per year in revenue.

"Our law was patterned after Utah's law and what they experienced in Utah was a significant drop in their rate of uninsured motorists," Dillard said. "More insured motorists were a byproduct of the Utah law. If we can replicate that in Nevada we will have more drivers on the road who know the rules and have a higher rate of insured motorists. In the end, that would benefit all of us."

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