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Nevada lawmakers work to end quirk in driver’s license law

Residents moving to the Silver State from U.S. territories are hit with a surprise when they try getting a Nevada driver’s license.

People moving to Nevada from any of the 49 other states, the District of Columbia and Canada who are 21 or older have it easier. They can transfer their state-issued driver’s license, along with proof of residency, to a Nevada license and not have to take written or driving tests, though they must pass a vision test.

But those transplanting from places like Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands must take the vision, written and driving tests to obtain a Nevada license.

To skirt the issue, some new Nevada residents from U.S. territories drive to neighboring Arizona, where residents don’t have to retake tests, transfer their current license there and then bring the Arizona license to Nevada to transfer to the Silver State.

Senate Bill 396 would amend current law to include residents of U.S. territories. The bill passed in the Senate and was heard by the Assembly last week.

The inconvenience can be taxing to people not expecting to retake the test, as time and money generally come into play.

Joey Cruz, a communications major at UNLV who is originally from Guam, came to Nevada and shares a vehicle with his father. He said not having his Nevada license was an issue at first.

“I would have to ask for my father’s help for getting there. Otherwise I would have to drive illegally,” Cruz said. “In some cases, I had to because he was at work and I would have to go to school.”

Aside from having to reschedule multiple events, including tests, Cruz said having to pay the additional fees to take the written and driving tests again was a problem.

“It was just more burdens that we shouldn’t have to pay for,” he said.

Cruz said it wasn’t until he got his Nevada driver’s license that he felt like a resident.

“It was just something that blocked me from living fully in the state and having the full experience,” he said. “It really gave me a sense of belonging. Once I took my (license) picture, it was a huge relief.”

Cruz doesn’t believe that other people should have to go through what he did to obtain his license, and he is behind SB 396.

“The fact that I already have my license, I would love to help those who are in the process of getting theirs and struggling,” he said. “We call Nevada our home, but yet the system itself blocks us from feeling that 100 percent.”

Nipton Road work

Chip-sealing on a nearly 19-mile stretch of eastbound and westbound state Route 164, also known as Nipton Road, will take place over the next week, the state Department of Transportation announced last week.

The two-lane rural highway connects U.S. Highway 95, near Searchlight, to Nipton, California.

Crews will chip-seal pavement with an asphalt emulsion to reduce water infiltration and reinforce the roadbed, working in 2-mile segments from 4 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily.

“Chip-sealing prevents further roadway deterioration for a smoother, safer driving experience,” said NDOT spokesman Tony Illia. “It’s a cost-effective maintenance solution that extends the roadway’s life cycle.”

The stretch of road has been damaged by flooding in the past; money to fix Nipton Road-related damage this year was part of over $8 million in emergency roadwork funds awarded by the Federal Highway Administration.

No work will be carried out during the weekend of May 11-12.

Flaggers and pilot cars will chaperone vehicles through the construction zone. Motorists can expect minor delays.

Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number.

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