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Officials make effort to reduce Nevada's unlicensed drivers

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Updated: 1/19/2013 3:22 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Making driving safer is becoming more of an issue as we see one fatal wreck after another, just in the past week.

There is an effort out there, to cut down on the number of drivers without a license. There is push for new type of driver’s license.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released a study that says fatal wrecks were three times more likely to have been caused by unlicensed drivers, and that study suspects many were caused by undocumented immigrants.

Here in Southern Nevada, we did not find hard numbers on undocumented immigrants who are unlicensed, but there is a push to make sure they learn the rules of the road and to be safe.
Celina, of Mexico has been in the United States for 10 years, driving for seven.

She does not have a license and does worry about police pulling her over all the time. But she drives. She says it is necessary.

I have to drive to go to work. I have to take my daughter to school. I have to drive to go to work. I have to take my daughter to school. I have to do my market, a bunch of stuff I have to do. I can't do it without driving,” she said.

Democratic State Senator Mo Denis is pushing for bi-partisan legislation that would grant a driver’s privilege card, also called a DPC. It would allow undocumented immigrants like Celina to drive in the state.

Supporters believe it would also make Nevada highways and streets safer by making undocumented drivers learn the rules of the road.

“This makes it a lot easier for everybody on the road. They know you have a license. You qualified already and you passed the test and you have insurance,” said Miguel Barrientos, Host of “Hoy En Las Vegas” KRLV 1340 AM.

The Department of Public Safety’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System tells us that in 2011, there were 246 fatal wrecks in Nevada, 15 involved unlicensed drivers. Ten of those were in Clark County.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department says last year there 18,000 citations for drivers’ license violations.

However, neither agency could further categorize why drivers may not have had licenses.
Trooper Loy Hixson of the Nevada Highway Patrol has been investigating fatal serious wrecks for many years.

“Do individuals need to have a driver’s license to operate a vehicle? Of course legally, yes. We’ve also seen that just having drivers licenses hasn't really made a difference whether a person understands the true responsibility of operating a car, operating a vehicle on the roadway, or other times just being a passenger,” Hixson said.

Unlicensed drivers are out there.

“We're not doing nothing bad we're just, we have to work to live here,” Celina said.

Some have and will be involved in wrecks whether the Driver Privilege Cards are offered or not.

Proposed legislation is still being written and is expected to be introduced this year.

The latest state to tackle this similar issue is Illinois. Its House passed a bill this week.

-- Sandra Gonzalez  / News 3

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