Guest Op-Ed: Yes on 4: Practical, Safe, Economic Policy

By East Boston’s Delegation Senator Lydia Edwards, Representative Adrian Madaro and City Councilor Gabriela Coletta

In East Boston, we represent one of the most diverse populations in the state. We are not only proud of diversity but we know that, but for immigrants from all over the world, East Boston would not be the vibrant beautiful community that we know and love.  We know that for our community to thrive, we must be safe, we must have policies that treat people equally, and we must be practical. That is why we hope you will join us in voting YES on Question 4. Question 4 is a ballot question concerning driver’s licenses in Massachusetts. A yes vote assures keeping the law we (the legislature) just passed.  A no vote would repeal the law.  The law allows for residents of Massachusetts to apply for and earn a driver’s license. You have to be tested and insured. A test includes the road test, and of course proof that you can read and understand the signs. It makes sense.

Assuring that all drivers are tested, licensed, and insured creates safer roads for all of us. That’s why the majority of sheriffs, police chiefs, and district attorneys from across the Commonwealth support it. Allowing people to earn a license regardless of their immigration status doesn’t provide for protection against deportation; it also doesn’t allow for drivers to get on planes, access government benefits, or vote.  It only allows a person to drive. In addition, it generates $5 million in fees and $6 million in taxes for our state. Finally, this law is supported by law enforcement. That’s why we should keep it!

Driving Families Forward is the coalition that has worked tirelessly to push the drivers’-licenses-for-all initiative forward. Licensed drivers ultimately make the roads safer to travel on for everyone in the state. In addition to the substantial increase in public safety, Massachusetts district attorneys and police chiefs support the modification because it simply makes sense. Leaders in law enforcement understand that insured drivers make the roads safer. They also realize that the licenses will reduce the number of hours it takes a law enforcement officer to verify a person’s identity during traffic stops.

Other states that issue these types of licenses have seen a significant reduction in hit-and-run accidents. The District of Columbia and 16 other states have taken the steps toward safer roads for their citizens by passing laws that allow people without status to obtain state driver’s licenses.

Studies show that the number of uninsured drivers drops dramatically when all drivers can acquire licenses. Drivers generally feel more comfortable knowing they are less likely to foot the bill for damage stemming from an accident. This is because the probability of a hit-and-run is reduced when more people are covered. Licensing all qualified state residents with a Massachusetts driver’s license or ID, regardless of their immigration status, is a common sense proposal that allows the 78% of workers in the Commonwealth, who rely on vehicles to get to their jobs, to travel the roads as licensed, registered, and insured drivers. Safety is the lowest common denominator. At the base level, the removal of the barrier to licensing ensures consistency. Licensing for all provides uniformity in the learned rules of the road and the road test required to obtain that license.

Additionally, Massachusetts gains an economic benefit from issuing more licenses. More revenue is generated through biennial registration fees, title certification, and inspection costs. Not to mention, the issuing of licenses brings economic stimulation for small businesses not easily accessible by public transit. Having permission to drive should not be conflated with immigration authority, citizenship status, collection agencies, or the numerous arguments used to distract voters from ultimately having safer roads and a uniform understanding of the rules of the road. Non-citizens have a wide range of rights and privileges that do not require documentation status, and moving about the state should be added to the list.

When November 8th arrives and you’re confronted with the choice of yes or no on Question 4, consider how voting YES on 4  will make our roads safer, make identification processes easier for police officers, and will provide economic stimulus to the Commonwealth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *