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Driver’s Licenses for All in Minnesota – an Opportunity with Some Risk

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2024 | Firm News

In 2023, Minnesota passed an important bill – the Driver’s License for All. This new legislation allows Minnesotans to get a standard state ID card, permit, or driver’s license without needing to provide proof of legal presence. This is a huge step towards making roads and the community safer.

Only eighteen other states grant licenses to residents regardless of immigration status, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), around 81,000 people are now eligible under the new state law in Minnesota. Immigrants are now eligible to get a State ID card regardless of age, and more important, insurance. There are some key requirements to know.

The requirement of showing proof of legal presence in the United States is no longer for a standard license. Note- this is not an enhanced or REAL ID license. It likely will not work for flying or entering secure federal properties. A standard driver’s license or state ID will be the same regardless of legal status. The Department of Vehicle Services (DMV) cannot share information about your status with law enforcement unless court ordered.

You must be at least 16 years old to be eligible to take the written and skills (road) test. If you never held a license, you have to possess a learner’s permit before you can take the skills test. You will also be asked to provide other identifying documents such as an unexpired foreign passport. After passing your road test, they will issue a temporary license until the card arrives in the mail. For more information on how to make an appointment online, visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website: There are practice tests and study guides you can use to study for the written test through this website. DPS also provides a driver’s license manual in other languages.

It is important to note a Minnesota license is not status. You cannot vote with this license. It is also not work authorization or a work permit. It is important to remember that suggesting to an employer than you are a citizen can trigger a lifetime ban to becoming a permanent resident in the United States. This license will resolve the ability to drive lawfully. That’s it.

Having a license to drive in Minnesota is a privilege. This means you can also lose your driving privileges if you break certain laws. The most common issue is not maintaining the registration on a car or insurance. Violating either invites bigger problems. A DUI or traffic related offense can trigger immediate immigration detention and removal, even if you have a license. The ability to secure a license to feel confident when driving is a wonderful opportunity. Make sure to keep in mind that the law also can take it away.