Hit-and-Run Collisions Fell After California Gave Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants in U.S. Illegally: Study

Eduardo Becerra gets his driver's permit at the DMV in Lincoln Park last year, after California began allowing immigrants in the U.S. illegally to obtain driver's licenses. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A California law giving immigrants here illegally the ability to get driver’s licenses appears to have helped decrease hit-and-run accidents, according to a Stanford University study released Monday.

The controversial law, part of a larger effort by state officials to provide rights and services to California residents in the country illegally, resulted in more than 850,000 people getting driver’s licenses since the law took effect in 2015.

Supporters of the measure argued that it would make California roads safer because those here illegally would be forced to take driver’s tests and would be less likely to flee from accidents out of fear of being arrested or deported.

The Stanford study estimated that the rate of hit-and-run accidents decreased at least 7% in 2015 compared with 2014. Using a complex formula, the researchers concluded that there were 4,000 fewer hit-and-runs that year because of the new law.

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