New Massachusetts law expands driver’s license eligibility to undocumented immigrants

BOSTON — A new law that Massachusetts voters passed back in November took effect on Saturday, expanding driver’s license eligibility to undocumented immigrants.

The Work and Family Mobility Act allows people in the country illegally to be able to apply for a Standard Class D or M driver’s license if they can provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with a foreign passport or consular identification document.

Appointments at RMV offices across the state are slated to begin on Monday, July 3.

Gov. Charlie Baker initially vetoed the law, but both houses of the legislature voted to override that veto.

Republicans pushed the ballot question to repeal the law. Voters ultimately opted instead to keep it by approving Question No. 4 on the ballot.

The Work and Family Mobility Act was created and supported by Driving Families Forward, a coalition of over 270 organizations founded and co-led by the Brazilian Worker Center and Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union.

In a statement on Saturday, Lenita Reason, Executive Director of the Brazilian Worker Center, said, “I am overjoyed that the day has finally come that immigrants without authorized status will be able to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license. According to the RMV’s estimates, over a quarter million immigrants will apply in coming years for the same standard license available to other state residents. It will allow them to easily register their vehicles and purchase auto insurance, and once they pass the driver’s test and get their license, they will be able to drive to the doctor, school or grocery store legally and come home safely.”

Leading up to the November 2022 election, supporters stressed that the 17 states that passed similar laws saw a decline in uninsured drivers and hit-and-run crashes. That was a key reason why the measure was endorsed by over 60 law enforcement officials statewide.

Under the new law, the state is required to ensure that people who lack proof of legal residence are not automatically registered to vote under the state law that registers those seeking driver’s licenses who are of voting age.

To prepare for the application process, the RMV provided the following tips to eligible residents:

1. Appointments are required: You will need to make two separate appointments online to take your learner’s permit exam and take a road test. Walk-ins will not be available. Starting July 1, you can make your appointment online at Mass.Gov/myRMV. Appointments will fill up fast at popular RMV locations (Haymarket, Watertown, Quincy), so consider expanding your location preferences to find more availability.

2. Prepare your documents: Before your appointment, be sure to gather a proof of identity; proof of date of birth; and documents proving Massachusetts residency. For the expanded list of acceptable documents, see Mass.Gov/WFMA. If any documents are not in English, the RMV will require the document to be accompanied by a certified English translation.

3. Standard fees apply: Costs are $30 for a learner’s permit exam fee, $35 for a road test fee, and $50 for a Class D driver’s license fee. The RMV encourages applicants to pay online in advance at Mass.Gov/myRMV.

4. Study and practice driving: Learn the Massachusetts rules of the road so you can successfully pass your learner’s permit exam. Practice driving with a licensed driver in the car before you take your scheduled road test. Be sure you know how to use hand signals, how to turn the vehicle on, how to use directional signals and the vehicle mirrors while driving.

5. Bring an interpreter if possible: Customer service centers will have translation services available by telephone for your appointment. If you need an interpreter for your road test and have a friend, loved one, or someone else who can accompany to translate, the RMV encourages you to bring them along. Otherwise, you can request an interpreter from the RMV when scheduling a road test.

6. Bring a licensed driver and a vehicle to your road test: All applicants for a driver’s license must bring a licensed driver to their road test to comply with the rules for driving under a Learner’s Permit. You must also provide a vehicle with valid registration and inspection documentation for the road test. You will not be able to take your road test if you do not bring a vehicle and a licensed driver to your appointment.

7. Beware of bad actors: The RMV cautions residents to beware of fraudulent websites and scams. The RMV is the only organization authorized to issue a driver’s license and to collect fees. Customers needing credentials should never pay someone for an RMV appointment. There are no special brokers authorized to help you get an appointment or a license. Make sure that you pay fees only at Mass.Gov/myRMV or in person at an RMV location.

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