Proposed Change to Utah License Law Could Affect Access to Car Insurance

Utah state Sen. Stephen Urquhart has made good on the intentions he expressed last November by introducing a bill to the legislature that would do away with the practice of issuing driving privilege cards to people who do not meet the eligibility requirements for a standard driver’s license.

Among those who end up applying for the cards are inhabitants of Utah who do not have documents showing evidence of lawful presence in the United States.

The cards allow people in the state a means of obtaining the ability to drive lawfully and purchase car insurance with no license. That means one unintended consequence of the bill could be an increase in the state’s uninsured motorist rate, which has estimated to be one of the lowest in the nation–8 percent in 2007, according to an estimate from the Insurance Research Council.

More than 41,000 driving privilege cards are currently issued in the state. They were first instituted in 2005.

According to a report submitted to the legislature in 2008, about 76 percent of a sample of nearly 3,500 driving privilege cards were able to be matched to a car insurance policy. That’s only 6 percentage points less than the insured rate of a similarly sized sample of driver’s licenses.

Although the cards may help temper the uninsured rate, Urquhart says that they are unacceptable. He believes they only make it easier for illegal immigrants to enter and maintain undocumented residences in the state.

Urquhart’s bill is on its way from committees to the full legislature, but whether it will survive there is uncertain.

A separate immigration reform bill is also taking shape, and it includes provisions that would increase the the fees associated with driving privilege cards and would make the path to obtaining one more difficult.

About Matthew Morisset
Matthew Morisset is a proud alumnus of the University of Redlands, where he obtained a degree in English Literature. Utilizing his passion for analysis and writing, Matthew looks for important trends in the auto insurance industry and their implications for consumers and the market as a whole.

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