The Illinois House on Tuesday approved legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain temporary driver's licenses.
The bill was OK'd by a vote of 65-46 and now heads to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk for approval.
Under the plan, drivers would get three-year licenses, called Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses, and would be required to take a driver's education class and carry car insurance. Lawmakers believe there are as many as 250,000 undocumented immigrants on Illinois roads and that more than 40 percent of deadly Illinois crashes involve drivers who don't have a license.
Quinn applauded the House's action, saying the bill will save lives as well as "help ensure every Illinois motorist is properly licensed and empower more immigrants to become stronger contributors to our economy."
"Illinois roads will be safer if we ensure every driver learns the rules of the road and is trained to drive safely," Quinn said.
Secretary of State Jesse White and State Police Director Hiram Grau said Monday in a joint statement that approving the plan not only will make roads safer but also lower insurance rates and strengthen the economy "from the work and buying power of all of our state’s residents."
"Unlicensed, uninsured drivers pose a serious risk to every driver and passenger on Illinois roadways," they said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the legislation is "true to our values as a city and will create value for our city."
New Mexico and Washington passed similar laws that White and Grau said have seen traffic accidents involving uninsured drivers plummet.
In November multiple state politicians -- including Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton, House Republican Leader Tom Cross and former Illinois governors Jim Edgar and James Thompson -- joined to support the bill. Prior to that, 28 Chicago aldermen signed a resolution supporting it.