New CA driver's licenses also requires drivers get auto insurance

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Once undocumented immigrants have their new California driver's licenses, the drivers will need to satisfy another state law: getting auto insurance.

Choosing coverage and paying premiums will be confusing and new to many of these drivers, some of them in their 30's and 40's. Some will even qualify for the state's low-cost insurance program.

Insurance agents expect to see a burst of activity later this month as DMV issues those driver's licenses. The change will help families and expand insurance sales.

"They can get their children to school, they can take them to see doctors and they also can stay employed. From an industry standpoint, what it means is it gives us a more stable pool of drivers," says Dwight Johnson, a Nationwide insurance agent.

Uninsured motorists have always been an issue, but now there will be fewer of them. However, not until they learn about auto insurance and liability.

Johnson says education and outreach will be important because the newly licensed drivers may never have purchased insurance before.

"A great majority have not, and I think one of the things this will do is give them a platform by which they can become knowledgeable based on California state laws, and I think that in turn protects them and protects the community," explained Johnson.

Mario Quezada's State Farm office in downtown San Jose is ready to do bilingual outreach.

"We have four people that are bilingual in Spanish, and we're going to be providing those services. We have information both in Spanish and English," said Quezada.

Some newly licensed drivers will be eligible for the state's low-cost auto insurance program, but there are restrictions.

To get basic coverage for a premium ranging from $213 to $472, the vehicle must be valued at less than $25,000.

The driver must also be verified low income and be at least 19 years old.

Beyond insurance, having legally licensed undocumented drivers may also impact the state's agriculture industry. Seasonal workers already are in short supply. Having a license and car will give mobility to find full-time jobs in the cities and in other industries.

The DMV expects nearly 1.4 million people to seek a license under this program in the next three years.
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