Senate Majority Passes Driver's License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light NY)

Andrea Stewart-Cousins

June 17, 2019

Albany, NY- Today, the Senate Democratic Majority passed the Driver's License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light NY), sponsored by Senator Luis Sepúlveda, that will restore the right to obtain a license, regardless of immigration status, that existed prior to 2001. 

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Today, we passed legislation restoring the right for all qualified drivers to obtain drivers licenses regardless of immigration status. By passing this needed legislation, we are growing our economy while at the same time making our roads safer. This is the right step forward for New York State as we continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level.”

Bill sponsor, Senator Luis Sepúlveda, said “This legislation will not only provide undocumented immigrants with a legal solution to obtain a driver's license, but its positive impacts will include significant economic growth, improved road safety, and it will keep hardworking families together. Millions of dollars will be raised in revenue, auto insurance premiums will decrease, and local economies will see a boom as earnings and spending increase. In a time when immigrants are being scapegoated for every ill in our country, this is our opportunity for New York State to show our courage and strength, and stand up for the marginalized communities. For economic, safety, and moral reasons, our communities deserve the Green Light Bill.”

The Driver's License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light NY), S.1747B, will allow non-commercial driver's license or learner's permit applicants to be able to submit additional proofs of identity to be eligible for a non-Federal license. It also waives the social security number requirement if the applicant signs an affidavit that they have not been issued a social security number and provides the DMV with discretion to approve additional proofs of identity and age. Further, this legislation will protect the data of the applicants from unwarranted release.

This legislation provides additional government revenue, supports New York businesses and increases road safety. Statewide, the Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that this legislation will result in $83.9 million in government revenues over the first three years and $6.4 million in recurring revenue thereafter. In a statement of support, the Business Council of New York State said that this legislation is “an opportunity to increase these New Yorkers’ ability to support local employers and businesses.” In Connecticut, where a similar policy was implemented four years ago, there have been almost 4,000 fewer unlicensed driving convictions and hit-and-run crashes have dropped 9% between 2016 and 2018.

Kathryn Wylde, President/CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said, “The business community applauds Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the State Senate Majority for joining the Assembly in passing legislation that authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers’ licenses to all who pass the driving test, regardless of immigration status. The experience of other states has been that this policy will improve safety on our streets and highways and help ensure that drivers are both trained and insured before they take the wheel.”

Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said, “Today’s Senate vote is one for the history books, marking a historic victory for immigrant families all across New York who have led the fight for respect and dignity for our communities. Immigrant New Yorkers have knocked on thousands doors and collected thousands of petitions on Long Island alone, held countless town halls, and traveled on a near-daily basis to Albany to advance this legislation. Green Light’s passage will bring enormous benefit to all New Yorkers, boosting our state’s economy, creating economic opportunities for immigrants, improving road safety, and keeping families together.”

Heather Briccetti, President/CEO of The Business Council of New York State, said, “We are pleased to see that State and private companies stand to benefit from increased economic activity as those who want to obtain a license and drive can do so by paying the same fees and insurance costs as all other New Yorkers. We still believe comprehensive immigration reform is a crucial federal issue that lawmakers in Washington must address.” 

Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said, “The New York Immigration Coalition applauds Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Deputy Leader Gianaris, bill sponsor Sen. Sepulveda and the members of the Senate Democratic conference for showing what true courage and leadership looks like today by passing the Green Light NY bill. This landmark legislation will protect a quarter-million immigrant New Yorkers by restoring their ability to obtain driver's licenses, while also making our roads safer, our economies stronger, and our communities healthier for all New Yorkers. Now it's up to Gov. Cuomo to truly be the champion of New York's immigrants that he claims to be by signing the Green Light bill into law immediately.”

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