Immigration Lawyer Recognized for Special Driver’s License Efforts

Connecticut was one of the first states in the nation to create a special driver’s license for undocumented immigrants. It likely never would have come to be without the work of a New Haven attorney. While a member of the state’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs commission in 2011, Attorney Carlos Candal began pushing for the establishment of a ‘drive-only’ license.

“Initially, they thought I was crazy, it’s not even anything that’s on anybody’s radar,” said Candal. At the time only two other states offered the licenses that allow un-documented residents that right to drive legally. “This license is not a license that will give them any federal benefits , it just allows them to be on the road safely in the state and the state is able to collect the fees from that application,” said Candal. Candal’s behind the scenes work was critical to the program becoming state law in 2013.

“All the millions of dollars that it cost in resources to prosecute these cases, all the millions of dollars the state would receive in fees, with registration and licensing fees, plus I bet if we had people from DMV petition as to public safety aspect-the roads would be safer because people would be forced to take test and learn about the rules of the roads,” said Candal. The bi-partisan Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission presented Candal with a special recognition award for his efforts.

“Started out as a public defender for five years and then in 1999 started my own practice here in New Haven,” said Candal.Candal, who also speaks Spanish, specializes in immigration and personal injury law. He calls the nation’s immigration system ‘broken.’ “Petitions for family members can take up to ten to twelve years for some countries, so it’s not practical. They need to have a way to allow people to come in and work because a lot of employers are looking for people to come in and work jobs that a lot of Americans may not want to do,” said Candal.