Driver’s License for All expected to boost car sales, open more job options
Undocumented immigrants who took their written road test in October are now eligible to take their driver’s skills test this month.
The Driver’s License for All law eliminates the requirement for legal residency to get a driver’s license. Since the law took effect on Oct. 1, Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services has seen an increase in non-English written tests of more than 46,000 compared to the same time last year.
At Inver Grove Ford in Inver Grove Heights, Saxon Auto Group Marketing Manager Ben Saxon says driving is a form of freedom.
“I look at a car or transportation is kind of like a freedom piece or freedom item for people to live their lives and do what they want to do,” Saxon said.
Now that more than 80,000 undocumented immigrants are eligible to get their driver’s licenses, car dealerships are hopping on the opportunity to hopefully seal more deals.
“It almost makes the situation easier because we know when we’re selling a car to this individual, they’ll have the proper information,” Saxon said.
State officials say it’s also a potential boost to the economy because new drivers will have to get insurance, plus they’ll have greater access to a number of jobs due to having transportation to work.
“We’ve seen an uptick in applications, and we’ve seen an uptick on even Minnesota IDs,” DVS Director Pong Xiong said.
Xiong says this is partly possible thanks to a multilingual virtual assistant that helps break down language barriers to schedule tests and answer any questions about the licensing process. The artificial intelligence technology comes in four languages: Hmong, Somali, Spanish and English.
“Speaking from my own personal experience, being able to interact in a language that you prefer is one of those things that are just, I think, undervalued, and I certainly appreciate it for those who need it,” Xiong said.
As for Inver Grove Ford, they’re prepared to overcome the language barriers in hopes that buyers can make more informed decisions.
“We have many Spanish-speaking technicians,” Saxon said. “Spanish and Portuguese-speaking finance manager and then salesperson, too.”
Since the virtual assistant rolled out in March, more than 9,200 non-English speakers have used it.