Driving while unauthorized: Auto insurance remains unchanged when providing driver licenses to unauthorized immigrants in California

What is the effect of offering driver's licenses to undocumented people? Hans Lueders and Micah Mumper offer answers.

Several states have recently implemented driver license reforms that give unauthorized immigrants access to driver licenses, aiming to reduce uninsured driving and lower premium costs. We test this expectation in the context of California's Assembly Bill 60 (AB60). AB60 gives about 2.6 million unauthorized immigrants access to driver licenses, making it the largest policy of its kind. Exploiting cross-county variation in the estimated number of AB60 licenses, we find no measurable effects on auto insurance uptake or premium costs. A power analysis and multiple robustness checks corroborate this conclusion. We interpret our results to suggest that most newly licensed unauthorized immigrants were already driving before the reform to access work and basic services. Furthermore, unauthorized drivers may already have had access to an insured vehicle. Our research revisits prominent claims about the effects of driver license reforms and provides much-needed empirical evidence to a controversial policy debate.