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Illinois lawmakers introduce driver’s license legislation

In the State of Illinois, the General Assembly is the legislative body that makes laws. The General Assembly consists of a Senate whose members number 59 and a House of Representatives made up of 118 members.

At various points throughout the legislative session, the members introduce proposed laws, which are known as “bills”. They are not effective as laws until they pass various levels of review, such as committees set up by each body.

Every state requires its drivers, subject to narrow exceptions, to obtain a valid driver’s license. 625 ILCS 5/6-101 There are of course age and residency requirements. Furthermore, an applicant for a driver’s must provide proper identification.

Those who are unable to provide such identity papers often include undocumented immigrants. If they are arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), they may be convicted of a felony. 625 ILCS 11-501(d)(1)(H) for receiving a DUI at a time they did not hold a valid driver’s license. This is known as aggravated DUI.

In addition to the felony angle and even if the prosecutor decides not to pursue a felony conviction, there are unfavorable driver’s license consequences that flow from a conviction for driving without a valid license. A new suspension is added to your record. Furthermore, the length of the original suspension is doubled. 625 ILCS 5/6-303
At some point, repeated convictions for driving suspended will cause the Secretary of State to revoke your license. Once your license is revoked, you must have a Secretary of State driver’s license hearing. Meanwhile, another year gets added to the revocation.

But for someone who cannot provide identity documentation, such a hearing is futile. Therefore, those persons wind up in a vicious circle of what some have termed repeated but necessary criminal conduct (driving without a license, driving revoked etc in order to support your family).

Two Illinois lawmakers have introduced a bill, House Bill 6228. This bill generally provides an avenue for individuals to obtain a “driver’s certificate”. The certificate allows the holder to operate a motor vehicle in Illinois and subjects him to all the traffic laws and rules, just as is the case with any other driver.

However, the certificate may not be accepted by a federal agency for a federal identification or other official purpose, and it would use a unique design or color indicator that visually distinguishes it from a driver’s license or permit. The reason for these requirements relates to the Federal Real ID Act of 2005.

This Act came into play in response to 9/11. There were suggestions that many states were making it too easy for people to obtain identification which could then be used as Federal identification. Additional documents must include the following:

(i) a photo identity document, except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if it includes both the person’s full legal name and date of birth;
(ii) documentation showing the person’s date of birth;
(iii) documentation showing the person’s name and address of principal residence; provided that the Secretary shall not accept any foreign document, other
than a valid official passport for this purpose.

The applicant must file proof provided that the applicant has submitted a set of fingerprint impressions to Illinois State Police. Finally, he must surrender all false driver’s licenses or State identification cards in his possession.

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