Your Rights with an AB 60 Driver’s License

Jan 15, 2015
Julia Harumi Mass

Page Media

officer hand

For vulnerable immigrants throughout California, 2015 brought with it something big, something that will change their lives forever.  

Why is this year so special? Because of AB 60 - The Safe and Responsible Driver Act

In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill to increase immigrant integration and road safety throughout the state. The bill came into effect on January 2 of this year and allows all eligible Californians to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status.

This is huge. For one, AB 60 is an important step toward making sure more drivers are licensed, tested, and insured. But the law’s largest and most immediate impact will be in the day-to-day lives of an estimated 1.4 million Californians who will apply.

AB 60 means that our friends, brothers, sisters, parents, and neighbors will be able to drive without fear of having their cars impounded, being ticketed, or left stranded by the side of the road for not having a license.

One important thing to note is that AB 60 licenses look slightly different than others. On the front they read: “federal limits apply.” On the back they read: “not acceptable for official federal purposes.”

For this reason, it is very useful to know what AB 60 license holders’ rights are when they come into contact with state and local law enforcement (i.e. California Highway Patrol, Sheriff, or police officers).

If you or someone you know has an AB 60 license, here are some key points:

  • Your AB 60 license is a valid California driver’s license;

  • Local and state law enforcement must accept your AB 60 license just as they would any other state-issued license or identification (i.e. for citations, whether you are driving or not);

  • Law enforcement is prohibited from using your AB 60 license to consider your immigration status as the basis for a criminal investigation, arrest or detention;

  • State or local agencies or officials, or any program that receives state funds, are prohibited from discriminating against you because you hold or present an AB 60 license;

There are, however, certain instances where one should use caution:

  • You might put yourself at risk if you show your driver’s license to law enforcement in another state, depending on the laws and policies of that state;

  • You shouldn’t try to use your AB 60 license to enter restricted areas in federal facilities;

  • Don’t use an AB 60 license to pass through TSA at an airport, use another form of identification, like a passport;

  • Don’t try using your license to prove your identity with federal law enforcement officers, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol;

You should also remember that anything you say can be used against you when talking to or in front of law enforcement, so don’t talk about your immigration status, citizenship, when you came to the US, or where you’re from.

If you think you have been discriminated against by law enforcement because of your AB 60 license, please call 415-621-2488 to report it.

For more information about AB 60 licenses click here and click here for other information about your rights.

Disclaimer: None of this is intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding a specific situation, you should consult with a licensed and trusted attorney.

Julia Harumi Mass is a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.