SALEM — On Tuesday, eight Oregon legislators — four Republicans and four Democrats — introduced a bill 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 workgroup convened by Gov. John Kitzhaber. Workgroup members included representatives from business, farm labor, law enforcement, and faith communities. The workgroup focused on enhancing public safety and reducing the number of unlicensed and uninsured motorists. The workgroup 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 costs 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.