Connecticut’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission has honored Attorney Carlos Candal with a Special Recognition Award, honoring the leading advocate for Connecticut’s new Drive Only license program, an initiative which will permit undocumented immigrants living in Connecticut with an opportunity to obtain a driver’s license.
The new state policy, which has been described by lawmakers as one of the most significant public safety initiatives ever adopted in the state, was advocated by numerous individuals and organizations, but none was more instrumental than Candal, a former LPRAC member and a Spanish-speaking lawyer practicing Immigration and Personal Injury law, with offices in New Haven.
The Drive Only license program, which begins on January 2, 2015 and is administered by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, could affect tens of thousands of drivers who cannot establish their legal presence in the U.S. or may not have a Social Security number.
The Special Recognition Award was highlighted by presentation of a commemorative plaque at LPRAC’s December 17, 2014 meeting in Hartford, and marked the first time that an individual Commission member was honored in such a manner, reflecting the significance of Candal’s contribution to the new law.
“As a result of this legislation, the state will reap millions of dollars in annual revenue, our roads will be safer, and our court system will not be clogged by tens of thousands of minor motor vehicle infractions, thus allowing government resources to be utilized in other ways that will benefit all Connecticut residents,” said LPRAC Executive Director Werner Oyanadel.
“It is with deep gratitude that I accept LPRAC’s recognition of my efforts as Chair of the Priorities and Legislation Committee in helping to pass legislation that as of January 2015 will allow qualifying undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license,” said Carlos Candal in receiving the LPRAC Special Recognition Award. “I am proud to say that through our efforts at LPRAC, along with those of passionate church leaders such as Father James Manship of St. Rose de Lima Church, agencies such as Connect, and courageous legislators such as State Representative Juan Candelaria, we played an instrumental role in this movement.”
As the law is poised to take effect, DMV officials are expecting thousands of immigrants to begin taking the steps needed to obtain a new state-issued driver’s license or learning permit. Public Act No. 13-89 requires the motor vehicles (DMV) commissioner to issue driver’s licenses “for driving purposes only” to individuals who cannot provide DMV with proof of legal U. S. residence or a Social Security Number (SSN). The license only allows the holder to drive; it cannot be used for federal identification purposes (e.g., boarding a plane) or as proof of identity to vote.
The act specifies the types of proof of identity and residence needed to obtain this license and the restrictions on its use. It prohibits the commissioner from issuing such a license to a person convicted of a felony in Connecticut. A Drive Only license is not valid for state or federal identification purposes, and cannot be used to vote.
Candal served as a member of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission (LPRAC) from 2009 to 2012 and was chair of LPRAC’s Priorities and Legislation Committee. He attended law school at Quinnipiac University School of Law and received his Juris Doctor in 1994.
The Latino & Puerto Rican Affairs Commission (LPRAC) is a nonpartisan policy agency within the legislative branch of government created in 1994 by an act of the Connecticut Legislature. LPRAC consists of 21 appointed community leaders that are mandated to advise the Connecticut General Assembly and the Governor on policies that foster progress in the Latino community in Connecticut.