RD865 - Implementation of the Driver Privilege Card (DPC) Program

Executive Summary:

During the 2016 General Assembly session, five bills concerning driving credentials for resident immigrants were introduced: HB 695 (Kory); HB 987 (Lopez); HB 1082 (Boysko); HB 1316 (Bloxom); and SB 390 (Surovell). The House Transportation subcommittee determined that the issues covered by the bills could have significant impacts on a number of areas, and as a result, Chairman Ron Villanueva charged DMV to study the potential impact of issuing driving credentials to resident immigrants. DMV invited a number of stakeholders to participate in the study, including immigrant community representatives, law enforcement, highway safety advocates, insurance industry representatives, agricultural industry representatives, human trafficking prevention advocates, economic and social research institutions, judicial representatives, and other state agencies. The study report was issued in November 2016 and included recommended legislative language that had been agreed upon by the stakeholders.

Bills were filed during the General Assembly sessions in each of the following years using this recommended language, but each failed to pass. In 2020, bills were filed by Senator Surovell (SB 34) and Delegate Tran (HB 1211), which would allow DMV to issue driving credentials to resident immigrants. SB 34 followed the 2016 study's recommended language, while HB 1211 did not. The language in SB 34 was later updated to address current issues and HB 1211 was conformed to SB 34. These two bills passed and were signed in law. A delayed effective date of January 1, 2021 was included in order to give DMV time to update its IT systems and implement the bill.

In order to be eligible for a DPC, the applicant must be a Virginia resident who is not a U.S. citizen. Applicants must have reported income from Virginia sources or be claimed as a dependent on such a Virginia income tax return that was filed within the past 12 months. Applicants must also not be in violation of insurance requirements. Additionally, applicants must present to DMV all of the proof of identity and residency documentation that is required for a standard or REAL ID driver's license, except that applicants for a DPC do not have to provide proof of legal presence. DPC applicants must also pass the same knowledge and road skills tests as applicants for standard or REAL ID driver's credentials. When applicable, they must also complete driver's education.