Glenwood DMV now offers licenses for undocumented Coloradans under expansion of 2013 state law
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Scarcity of appointment times and long waits should be a thing of the past for undocumented Garfield County residents seeking to obtain a Colorado driver’s license under a six-year-old state program.
That’s because, as of Jan. 2, the SB251 driver’s license program for immigrants was expanded to include the Glenwood Springs Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) office and four other locations around the state, under new legislation approved last year.
According to Mateo Lozano, mountain regional coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, long waits for those qualifying under the program had become the norm when the service initially was offered at just four locations around the state — the closest to Glenwood Springs being Grand Junction.
“We have been working with the state Legislature to open up more resources to people, and are happy to see this expansion go into effect,” Lozano said.
The system was also initially exposed to fraudulent activity where crooks were buying and selling appointments, some of which didn’t even exist, he said.
With the expansion should also come better security within the system as access is opened up, he said.
“I’ve worked with many good friends to help them get an appointment for licenses, but the appointments were scarce and almost impossible to find,” Lozano said.
“I’d like to give a shoutout to (Sen.) Bob Rankin, who has been a great supporter and voted for the expansion of licenses in Glenwood Springs,” Lozano said of the Republican legislator from Carbondale. “By supporting this, he is helping people right in his own community.”
The expansion to the Glenwood Springs DMV office, located at the far west end of the Glenwood Springs Mall, at 51027 Hwy 6 & 24, comes as a result of followup legislation to a state law that was approved in 2013.
The “More Colorado Road and Community Safety Act” of 2019 allowed for 10 more DMVs around the state to issue driver’s licenses to residents regardless of their immigration status.
Initially, the program was offered through DMV offices only in Aurora, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Lakewood.
The new legislation, signed by Gov. Jared Polis last year, expands the program to DMV facilities in Glenwood Springs, Montrose, Durango, Pueblo and Lamar. Offices in Alamosa and Sterling are to be added in June.
The bipartisan 2013 bill gave access to driver’s licenses for undocumented residents, as long as they met a series of requirements, including purchase of car insurance.
The program enables people who are likely to be driving anyway to legally drive and purchase car insurance, supporters point out. Critics said the program makes it easier for people who are undocumented to stay and work without seeking legal status.
The expansion means people can access the services without having to travel a long way to do it, Lozano and other supporters say.
Fees for the driver’s licenses are intended to pay for implementation of the expanded program.
“The program is only going to get better,” Lozano said. “And it’s important to point out that this is about having safer roads …
“What we don’t want is to have people out there driving anyway without insurance and not having gone through the proper driver education courses,” he said.
At a Senate Finance Committee hearing last February, numerous community members testified that the typical wait for an appointment was several months. Those living in more rural areas also testified that they had to travel long distances to one of the participating DMV offices, forcing them to incur additional costs and miss work.
“Colorado is taking an important step toward improving the safety and security of all of its residents with implementation of the More Colorado Road and Community Safety Act,” Marissa Molina of FWD.us, part of the statewide I-Drive Coalition that lobbied for the expansion, said in a prepared statement.
“Expanding access to driver’s licenses will make life better for countless hardworking Colorado families, grow our economy, and make our state stronger in every way,” Molina said.
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