Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Donate your vehicle during the month of April or May and you'll be entered into a $500 Visa gift card drawing!

CT lawmakers debate over ‘Drive Only’ markings on driver's licenses

Laura Morales, right, and Victor Morales, left, help their 16-year-old, Mexican-born son, second from left, apply for a driving permit at the state Motor Vehicle Division offices.
Morgan Lee
/
AP
Laura Morales, right, and Victor Morales, left, help their 16-year-old, Mexican-born son, second from left, apply for a driving permit at the state Motor Vehicle Division offices.

A debate erupted recently in Connecticut’s legislative transportation committee over whether undocumented immigrants living in the state should have a special marking on their driver’s license — which have been used to indicate their immigration status.

The Drive Only marking’s original purpose was to give undocumented immigrants a way to drive without allowing them the privileges that a regular driver's license gives, such as verification to register to vote.

But now, state Democrats have introduced a bill that would remove the marking — arguing that the tag ‘DO’ makes undocumented individuals prone to discrimination, and in states like Florida, the possibility of being detained by federal authorities.

“Everywhere you go, they look at you differently,” state DMV commissioner Tony Guerra said last month. “You go to Florida, and they pull you over…because you have a DO, [they say] get off of our roadways and if you don’t get off, we’re going to arrest you.”

Meanwhile, state Republicans oppose the bill, arguing that removing the marking could lead to an increase in voter fraud.

“When it has DO on it, the registrars know that it can’t be used to vote,” State Representative Tom O’Dea (R-Darien) said. “So you can use a bill, you can use something else. And you can commit fraud that way. But we shouldn’t be enabling voter fraud by making it easier to vote with this.”

O’Dea is referring to the way voters can use documents like utility bills as proof of residence to register for same-day voting in Connecticut, instead of a driver’s license.

But State Representative Roland Lemar, (D-New Haven) who co-chairs the transportation committee, pointed out that multiple stages of verification would have had to take place before a point was reached where an ID was required.

“A number of frauds would have had to take place before that moment,” Lemar said. “If you wanted to commit fraud, there are numerous easier ways to do so other than going through this process.”

Lemar also said he was concerned that the marking would lead to an arrest for undocumented persons in other states if they happened to be put in a situation where they were forced to show ID to law enforcement.

He said Connecticut was actively putting those individuals in danger by placing the mark on their driver’s licenses.

The bill is still being considered by the state’s transportation committee.

Sky Crabtree is a news intern at WSHU for the spring of 2024.
Related Content

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.