BTC BRIEF: Licensing All Drivers in North Carolina - A Policy that Supports Public Safety and Boosts the Economy

By Alexandra Forter Sirota
Director of the Budget & Tax Center
April 2014

For years, North Carolina has been at the forefront of adopting measures that improve safety on the roads, from graduated driver’s licenses for first-time drivers to texting bans to strict requirements on the transportation of children. But one simple measure has been ignored: ensuring all drivers have a driver’s license, regardless of their immigration status.

Doing so can improve public safety while giving an economic boost to workers and employers. A growing number of states—12 as of 2013— have adopted this straightforward policy, finding that there is minimal or no additional cost to the state and benefits that include a more inclusive economy and society. While North Carolina policymakers considered legislation in 2013 that would have provided a driver’s privilege to some unauthorized immigrants, it was coupled with enforcement procedures that would have minimized the benefits. Lawmakers should go back to the drawing board and come up with a more workable plan, since there is a growing need to license all drivers in the state in order to keep up with trends in immigration and our economy.

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