SANTA ANA (AP) — The number of people making appointments to apply for a California driver’s license more than doubled in late November — a possible sign of demand for a new license that will soon become available to immigrants in the country illegally, an official said Monday.

Nearly 379,000 appointments were made between Nov. 12 and Nov. 30 compared with roughly 176,000 during the same period a year ago, said Armando Botello, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

The data includes anyone applying for a driver’s license or to renew an existing one. Botello said the increase stems at least partly from the state’s decision to start issuing licenses in January to immigrants in the country illegally.

“We’re trying to get a message out to people they don’t have to be the first, we’re not going to run out of licenses,” he said.

California expects to receive 1.4 million applications for the new licenses in the first three years and has been hiring new employees, adding offices and printing additional test preparation materials to help meet the expected demand.

Botello said it’s difficult to know how many people will apply for the new licenses right away. He said the number of appointments spiked immediately after immigrants could start making them on Nov. 12, but the agency does not specifically track immigrants’ appointments.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said demand for the licenses will be high, but some people might wait to see how others fare in the application process and to have more time to prepare to take the required written test.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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