During legislative debate, proponents said that the new measure would make the state’s roads safer by allowing the Maryland Motor Vehicles Administration to administer written and road tests for undocumented citizens, and by making it possible for insurance companies to issue them liability coverage.
Opponents argued that the bill — known as the Maryland Highway Safety Act of 2013 — would reward the behavior of those who have entered the country illegally.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s) passed 29 to 18 in the Senate and 82 to 55 in the House of Delegates.
The law is one of only a handful set to take effect on Jan. 1 in Maryland. Most other measures passed during the 2013 session of the General Assembly took effect on July 1 or Oct. 1.