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DC Council Considers New DMV Bill

Last week, the DC Council held a joint committee hearing to address several Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) related bills. Bread for the City staff member, Kathleen Stephan, along with multiple community advocates testified in support of Bill 21-0736 Improving Access to ID Documents Act of 2016. This act was co-introduced by Council-members David Grosso and Yvette Alexander in acknowledgement of the financial burden that obtaining an identifying document poses for low income residents.

In the following excerpt from her testimony, Kathleen explains the need for fee waivers for identifying documents such as a birth certificates, non-drivers IDs and licenses:

DMV hearing June 2016

Patricia Hernandez – Casa Ruby, Luis Ayala – Casa Ruby, Priscilla Skillman – Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church Transition Assistance Program, Jesse Rabinowitz – Miriam’s Kitchen

Across the city, there is extremely limited financial support for identifying documents.  Many low income residents do not currently qualify to have the DMV fee for a non-drivers ID waived, and there is no fee waiver for a driver’s license or birth certificate.  There are few places that cover these costs for clients, and the availability has shrunk even further since Miriam’s Kitchen ended their financial program last year.

This bill is an important step towards removing a barrier that keeps low income District residents from accessing important opportunities to support themselves and their families.  This action by the DC Council will help the clients we serve obtain their IDs in order to obtain employment, educational opportunities, and housing.  Thus, being able to obtain an ID is a critical foundation for self-sufficiency and will, in the end, save the District money by having residents who are less dependent on government services for support.

Bread for the City has long advocated for more accessible and low-cost options for obtaining identifying documents. In May 2014, the DC DMV implemented federal REAL ID standards that have had a profound impact on low income residents’ abilities to prove their eligibility for an ID or license. Bread for the City has advocated for more accessible policies along with community organizations such as Children’s Law Center, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Foundry United Methodist Church, Miriam’s Kitchen and Transition Assistance Program at the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church. Representatives from these groups also gave testimony at the hearing and bolstered the importance of fee waivers to expanding ID access.

While Kathleen’s testimony focused primarily on fee waivers to expand ID access, other advocates and community members testified on Bill 21-0739, the Driver’s License Fair Access and Equity Amendment Act of 2016, a bill that Bread for the City also supports. This bill codifies that limited purpose credential seekers will no longer need to make an appointment in order to obtain an identifying document. It also ensures that the DMV provide interpretation services to all of their clients, thereby making IDs more accessible to all of our community members.

Bill 21-0738 Driver’s License Fair Access and Equity Amendment Act of 2016

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