LCSN: NMSU study: Driver’s licenses have little impact on insurance levels

September 1, 2011. Retrieved online September 1, 2011 from Janet Perez, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses or requiring lawful residency identification has an “insignificant impact” on the percentage of uninsured drivers in New Mexico.

That’s according to New Mexico State University’s J. Tim Query, an associate professor of finance and business law, who decided to see if there is a link driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and the number of uninsured motorists.

New Mexico is one of three states, including Utah and Washington, that allows immigrants to apply for a driver’s license without proving their legal residence.

Gov. Susana Martinez has proposed and end to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Uninsured drivers

New Mexico is second in the nation in uninsured drivers at 25.7 percent, with Washington in 11th place at 16.1 percent. However, only seven states have a lower percentage of uninsured motorists than Utah. That state has an estimated 8.2 percent rate of uninsured drivers, which is well below the national average of 13.8 percent. Utah’s licenses can only be used for driving.

“When examining data from the Insurance Research Council’s periodic study of uninsured motorists,” Query said, “evidence is somewhat mixed in that states with loose requirements for a state-issued driver’s license did not have uniformly lower percentages of uninsured motorists.”

For example, according to IRC figures, Arizona saw its uninsured motorists rate drop from 17.8 percent in 2007 to 11.9 percent in 2009, a full year before its tough immigration law went into effect. Meanwhile, California’s uninsured drivers rate fell from 18.1 percent in 2007 to 15 percent in 2009. The IRC provided no reason for the drop in both states.

Read the Las Cruces Sun-News article.


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