Natty Shafer Law

Utah lawyer for criminal and immigration cases

The Utah Driving Privilege Card

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There’s a lot of misinformation about the Utah Driving Privilege Card (DPC), which allows undocumented immigrants to legally drive in Utah. The program has been in place since 2005 and was designed to encourage undocumented immigrants an avenue to drive legally and obtain auto insurance. Unlike a regular driver’s license, the DPC must be renewed each year and also is not supposed to be used as legal identification.

There was some concern when the program was instituted that no one would obtain the privilege card because it’s more or less a tacit admission of undocumented immigrant status. However, it has not worked out that way in practice. The Utah Driver License Division only notifies law enforcement or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if the applicant has an outstanding warrant for arrest or has been accused of a felony. As a consequence, Utah issues about 41,000 driver privilege cards per year.

Currently, here is what is required every time a person applies for a DPC: 1) A birth certificate or passport, along with a certified translation if the document is not in English; 2) Another form of identification such as a previous DPC, a Matricular Consular Card from the Mexican Consulate in Utah, another state’s driver’s license, or even an employee ID; 3) Either a valid social security number or an Individual Tax Identification Number from the IRS.

There are also some items you will need to get your first DPC: 1) Proof of Utah residency using certain mail or other documents (this is also necessary if you are changing your address from a previous DPC); 2) A fingerprint card placed in a sealed envelope from an authorized law enforcement agency; and 3) Proof of a driver’s education class, with certified translation into English, if necessary.

The fingerprint card tends to worry immigrants the most. In practice it has not led to a noticeable uptick in deportations. As mentioned previously, there are specific circumstances when the Driver’s License Division notifies law enforcement, but otherwise the fingerprint card is not used.

Author: Natty Shafer

Attorney practicing immigration and criminal law

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