A new Colorado law is drawing tremendous traffic to the state's motor vehicle website which is now averaging 70,000 hits per hour compared to just about 8,000 prior to the law being enacted.
Pursuant to a law passed a year ago, non-U.S. citizens living in Colorado can now apply for driver's licenses in the state. The state's Division of Motor Vehicles will begin issuing the licenses in August through five of the state's DMV offices - Denver, Aurora, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction.
Over 800 appointments to apply have already been scheduled, and the agency's website is averaging 70,000 hits per hour against the usual average of 8,126. The website briefly crashed on Wednesday, the first day the information was available.
"There is clearly a great deal of interest by the community to obtain these services," said Barbara Brohl, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue.
The law authorizes "the issuance of a Colorado driver's license, instruction permit or identification card to those individuals who either cannot demonstrate lawful presence in the U.S. or can only demonstrate temporary lawful presence in the U.S. beginning August 1, 2014.
To ease the path, the Colorado DMV will conduct workshops in July, August and September to help applicants through the process.
The license that is issued to these applicants will be clearly marked "Not For Federal Identification, Voting or Public Benefit Purposes."
The initial rush to apply, which should remain strong for quite some time going forward, and the restriction of only having five offices that will support the law, has made some proponents of the law frustrated.
"Having a system where people have to wait months or years to get a license doesn't stand up to what the law is meant to do," said Gabriela Flora, a regional organizer for American Friends Service Committee, an immigrant rights group.
The bill was passed in July 2013, and it allows non-citizens who do not have a Social Security number to obtain a license, if they can prove that they have filed taxes with a federal identification number, and have lived in Colorado for a minimum of one year.
Applicants will also be required to present proof of identity issued by the applicant's country of origin. The applicant must also provide proof that he or she has applied for lawful U.S. residency or will do so when eligible.
The state estimates that approximately 46,000 non-citizens (of the 200,000 thought to be living in Colorado) will apply for the license or other identification cards.