Ore. lawmakers propose short-term license bill

Say it would boost safety, cut no. of uninsured drivers

SALEM, Ore. - Eight Oregon legislators -- four Republicans and four Democrats -- introduced a bill Tuesday that they say is "designed to make Oregon's roads safer." Senate Bill 833 would allow creation of a new, short-term driver's license for applicants who otherwise qualify, but are unable to provide proof of legal U.S. residency.

"All Oregonians, regardless of the documents they have, need the ability to participate in the local economy," said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

"People need to pass a test, obtain a license and insurance to be on the roads. We all need to get to church, the store and work. We have worked hard to craft a bill that allows our law enforcement officials to know when they are looking at a valid driver's license. Senate Bill 833 is a reasonable solution to the problem."

The bill is the product of a diverse working group convened by Gov. John Kitzhaber. Its members included representatives from business, farm labor, law enforcement, and faith communities.

The work group focused on enhancing public safety and reducing the number of unlicensed and uninsured motorists. The work group members spent two years carefully working through the issues to arrive at a bill that all could support.

The bill's sponsors include two Democrats and two Republicans from each chamber of the Oregon Legislature. They are Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Pendleton), Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland), Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River), Rep. Vic Gilliam (R-Silverton), Rep. Chris Harker (D-Beaverton) and Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson (D-Portland).

"It is critical that SB 833 is bipartisan," said Ramon Ramirez of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), a union of farmworkers and tree planters. "This is an Oregon issue, and one that deserves to be passed and make our roads safer in the process."

The short-term driver's license would be good for four years and is for driving only. Applicants will be required to prove their identity and date of birth, and demonstrate that they have lived in Oregon for at least one year.

No applicant would be issued a license without passing the written and driving skills tests administered by Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The DMV would be required to use the same facial recognition software for these applicants as they do for all Oregonians, to prevent identity fraud.

The short-term license would not serve as proper identification for purchasing a firearm, boarding a plane, entering a federal building, or voting. It would not affect a person's eligibility status for state or federal benefits.

An estimated 14 percent of all accidents are caused by uninsured drivers and cost the state over $85 million a year.

"This bill will reduce the number of uninsured drivers, and will therefore provide a cost savings to the public through decreased premiums.," the announcement said

The full summary, as provided by proponents of the bill:

Senate Bill 833 – Short Term Driver License

Directs Department of Transportation to issue short term driver license or short term driver permit to applicant who does not provide proof of legal presence in the United States but otherwise has complied with all requirements for license or permit and has resided in Oregon for more than one year.

Prohibits use of short term driver license or short term driver permit as identification to obtain Oregon concealed handgun license or purchase firearm from gun dealer.

Relating to documents issued the Department of Transportation

Primary messages

  • This bill is the result of Governor Kitzhaber's Task Force, working for the last two years, in consultation with the DMV, GOP and Democratic leaders, and stakeholders including representatives of law enforcement, business, the insurance industry, faith communities, farm labor and immigrant advocates.

What this bill is about: Public Safety

  • SB 833 is a public safety measure designed to improve traffic safety and reduce the number of unlicensed, uninsured drivers on Oregon's roads.
  • All Oregonians, regardless of the documents they have, need the ability to participate in the local economy by driving to church, the store, school and work, and we want them to do so legally. This bill would allow them to prove they can drive, get licensed and get auto insurance.
  • Too many people are driving unlicensed and uninsured, making other Oregon drivers more vulnerable.
  • SB 833 is a common-sense measure that helps Oregon residents follow the law by proving their identity, proving they can drive, and buying auto insurance, just like most Oregonians.
  • There is a cost to society when we have uninsured, untested drivers on Oregon's roads. 

What SB 833 does

  • Creates a distinct, 4-year Short-Term Driver License for anyone who cannot provide the proper documentation to get a standard driver license (i.e. undocumented immigrants, homeless people, elderly people, etc).
  • Requires applicant to prove their identity and date of birth, provide proof they've lived in Oregon for at least a year. DMV will use the same facial recognition software they use now on the standard driver license. These measures will prevent identity fraud and deter people from other states from attempting to get a drivers license in Oregon.
  • Requires applicants to take and pass the written and driving skills tests administered by DMV.
  • Holders of the Short-term Driver License have the same responsibility to obtain auto insurance as any other licensed Oregonian.
  • DOES NOT serve as ID to purchase a firearm or obtain a concealed handgun permit.
  • DOES NOT affect a person's eligibility status for state or federal benefits.
  • The Short-term Driver License is for the purpose of driving only. It is not intended for the purpose of boarding a plane, buying a gun, entering a federal building, voting or obtaining other state or federal benefits.

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