ned Lamont
Gov. Ned Lamont answering questions on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Some 61,000 Connecticut residents with driver-only licenses could be impacted by a new immigration policy in Florida, which considers invalid certain driving-only credentials for undocumented immigrants from a handful of states. 

The new Florida law was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May and went into effect July 1. According to a state website, Florida will no longer recognize licenses issued exclusively to undocumented immigrants by the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, and Vermont.

Drivers who present the impacted licenses during a traffic stop in Florida may be subject to a citation.

DeSantis, a Republican seeking his party’s nomination to run for president in 2024, framed the new law as a response to the immigration policies of President Joe Biden. 

“The Biden administration may continue to abdicate its responsibilities to secure our border, but Florida will stand for the rule of law,” DeSantis said in a press release last week. “Even if the federal government refuses, Florida will act decisively to protect our citizens, our state, and our country.”

In a short statement on Monday, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles said the agency was still reviewing the new Florida policy but estimated it could impact nearly 61,000 Connecticut drivers who have been issued driver-only licenses.

Connecticut has offered driver-only licenses to undocumented residents since 2014 with the goal of ensuring that more motorists are registered with the state and carrying automobile insurance. 

The program applies to undocumented residents at least 16 years old. Impacted Connecticut licenses feature the acronym “DO,” for “Drive Only” and the words “Not For Federal Identification.” 

Asked about the Florida policy after an unrelated event on Tuesday, Gov. Ned Lamont advised any Connecticut residents with a driver-only license to exercise caution if they plan to drive in the state of Florida.

“I’d be very careful with my driving until we get this legally straightened out,” Lamont said. “I don’t trust what’s going to happen there.”

Lamont said Florida is risking the creation of a “confusing hodgepodge” of driver’s license policies.

“We recognize everybody’s license. I think that’s the fair way to do it,” he said.