Despite Setback, Drive Virginia Forward Recommits to Improving Driver License Law
(Richmond, VA) – Today after listening to compelling testimony from Virginians negatively impacted by the crisis created by lack of license access, the Senate Committee on Transportation rejected SB390 –a bill which would have issued a temporary license to Virginians who had paid income taxes regardless of their status.
Alba Rodriguez of Manassas was one of the many impacted Virginians who testified at the hearing.
“A driver’s license is a necessity for all who live here in Virginia. Three years ago in 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The impact that this had on my family cannot be understated. I could not transport myself to my doctor’s appointments in Charlottesville because I could not apply for a driver’s license. My husband had to choose between his job or taking me to cancer treatment. Being diagnosed with cancer was difficult for my family, but it was made much worse by the fact that I could not drive. Today I am getting better. As a mother I would like to take my kids to soccer practice, to school, to church. I would like to get a job to help my family have a better quality of life.”
Senator Scott Surovell, Chief Patron of SB390, described the benefits of the policy. According to Senator Surovell, “Expanding driving privileges will mean more drivers buying cars, paying for gas, having greater access to shopping districts, and paying a fee for the privilege of a driver’s license. These new drivers and law enforcement officials will be able to work together to ensure public safety, and police officers will be able to readily identify motorists during traffic stops and have access to their driving record. Driving is a basic necessity in Virginia: most people drive to get to school, go to work, take their kids to school, go to church or take care of a loved one during an emergency. SB390 will enable many New Americans, including tens of thousands of residents in Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford Counties, to fully integrate into their communities and be productive residents in the Commonwealth.”
Despite today’s setback, Drive Virginia Forward, the statewide coalition to advance licensure will continue its campaign to ensure that Virginia is safer through broad licensure policies. Citing the many benefits of the legislation, including that all drivers in Virginia will know the rules of the road and carry auto insurance in case of accidents and that court and law enforcement will be improved through motorist identification and reduced court dockets, Coalition members believe that passing the legislation is not a question of if but rather a question of when.
For more information on efforts to pass driver’s license legislation in Virginia, go to www.drivevirginiaforward.org.