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The DMV estimates that tens of thousands of undocumented, unlicensed and uninsured drivers are currently on New Yorks roads, contributing to increased accidents and hit-and-runs as well as higher auto insurance rates. In addition, bringing more New Yorkers into the system will ensure a greater number of people have a license record that, if necessary, can be used to enhance law enforcement efforts.
I applaud the DMV and Commissioner Swarts for making this commonsense change that deals practically with the reality that hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants live among us and that allowing them the opportunity to obtain driver licenses in a responsible and secure manner will help increase public safety, said Governor Eliot Spitzer. After a comprehensive review, DMV has developed changes that will increase the security of our license system by obtaining better and more verifiable information from applicants, which will decrease the number of uninsured drivers on the roads, lower auto insurance rates for all drivers and, when necessary help law enforcement agencies in their investigations.
Commissioner Swarts said: This policy change allows the DMV to focus its resources on its core mission to ensure that every person driving on our roads is fit to drive and can prove his or her identity. Currently, too many drivers are unlicensed and uninsured simply because they do not have a social security number. Rather than bury our heads in the sand and pretend the problem does not exist, today we are choosing to confront it and in doing so greatly improve the safety of our roads.
To ensure a smooth transition without disruption to regular customer service, the implementation of the policy change will take place in two phases:
Phase 1 will begin immediately. Informational letters from DMV will be sent to the approximately 152,000 New Yorkers, who at one point had (or currently have) a New York State license, but are unable to renew it because of the previous administrative policy. DMV will notify these former and current license holders of the policy change and will begin the re-licensing process at the end of 2007. Those affected will still need to prove their identity, date of birth and fitness to drive before being issued a new license.
Phase 2 will begin six to eight months after Phase 1 and will open the application process to all New Yorkers.
The time period between phases will allow the DMV to make the necessary infrastructure and staffing improvements to accommodate the expected increase in customer volume while maintaining the highest
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