DENVER (CBS4) – Getting a driver’s license may be a relatively simple task for most, but for Marissa Molina it wasn’t easy. She and her family are immigrants from Mexico.
“I remember my first day of driving school crying because I was so afraid to be behind the wheel of a car,” she said.
When they moved to Glenwood Springs nearly 20 years ago, Marissa’s parents couldn’t get a driver’s license.
“My parents would think very strategically how often and where we drove,” Marissa explained. “It was dangerous to driver without a license. There were real and serious consequences.”
Colorado began issuing special driver’s licenses to immigrants in 2014, but only three DMV locations in the entire state are devoted to that purpose. For immigrants working in rural communities, it was next to impossible to get an appointment – often times the wait was months long – let alone drive there.
Yet with Gov. Jared Polis’ signature on SB139, driver’s licenses will be made available to all state residents, regardless of their immigration status, at 10 DMV offices by July 2020.
“It’s life changing,” Marissa told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Marissa and her parents already have their own special driver’s licenses. She believes the new law will change the lives of many immigrant families across Colorado, just like it did hers.
“Now that people are able to access driver’s license, they’re able to contribute back to their local economies because they can go to work and get there safely,” Marissa said.
Eleven other states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have all passed laws that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.