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Undocumented Immigrants Can Now Obtain Driver’s License in California

Undocumented Immigrants LicenseUndocumented immigrants are now eligible to apply for California driver’s licenses.1 The immigrants must be California residents and provide the DMV with the following:

  • Proof of residency
  • Thumb print, and
  • Picture or photo for identification

Over 1.4 million individuals are expected to apply for these special licenses. The DMV has opened four new offices and hired more than 900 additional employees to assist with the incoming rush. The licenses look like other California licenses, with the exception that the words “federal limits apply” are printed on the front and “This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes” on the back. The cards cannot be used as identification to board an airplane.2

Driving without a License is a “Wobbler” (CVC 12500 (a))

Driving without a valid license is a violation of California Vehicle Code 12500(a), and can be charged as a misdemeanor or non-criminal infraction.3 If you are charged with a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is six months in county jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.4 If you are charged with an infraction, you can be fined, but not imprisoned.5

A prosecutor considers your criminal record, particularly your driving history, when determining whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or infraction. An experienced criminal attorney can argue that certain charges on your driving history should not be considered. Often, even if a prosecutor charges you with a misdemeanor, the charges could be reduced or dismissed if you obtain a valid driver’s license. Your fine may also be reduced if you obtain a valid driver’s license.

When You Can Get a Valid Driver’s License?

DMVYou can now get a valid driver’s license. The date of your driving test must be on or after Jan. 2, 2015. If you are an undocumented immigrant and took the driving test before this day, you are not eligible to get a California driver’s license. This is true even if you passed the driving test. If you already passed the driving test prior to Jan. 2, 2015, you will have to pass it again in order to qualify for a driver’s license.

What Wallin & Klarich Can Do For You

If you have been charged with driving without a valid license, call a Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney right away. Our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys may be able to assist you in avoiding jail, a fine, or criminal charges. We have been helping our clients successfully avoid the harsh consequences of a driving without a license charge for over 30 years.

We have offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville. We are able to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. [California Department of Motor Vehicles. AB 60 Regulations Approved. See https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/newsrel/newsrel14/2014_78]
2. [Los Angeles Times. DMV prepares to issue driver’s licenses to people who are here illegally.
See http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-pol-immigrant-licenses-20141211-story.html
]

3. [VC § 12500(a).]
4. [PC § 19]
5. [PC § 19.6]

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About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.