Local News

DMV Law Shrouded in Controversy

Posted November 2, 2001

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new law

requires proof of residency from anyone who seeks a North Carolina driver's license. But did you know that a law exists that allows people in our state to get a license without ever showing their faces?

For religious reasons, many people live behind a veil. That is especially the case in the Middle East. A concerned viewer contacted WRAL after seeing a Muslim woman receive North Carolina identification without having to show her face while her photo was being taken.

The Division of Motor Vehicles says an ID card was issued in Fayetteville to a woman who said she could not show her face due to religious reasons.

Most of the woman's face was covered by a veil, and that concerned Gresham Baltes.

"Beautiful linen, beautiful, all the way down. But it's just not right. I kept waiting for the examiner to say, 'Please remove your veil' and she never did. She said sit down and she took her picture. And I was livid, I was livid. I couldn't believe it," said Baltes.

According to the DMV, if a customer has the proper paperwork, he or she can have his or her picture taken with religious headwear.

Det. Kathy Wood of the Garner Police Department investigates cases involving identification fraud. She said that she cannot believe that after the attacks of Sept. 11 that the state would give anyone identification without telling who the person really is.

According to the Iman from the Islamic Center of Raleigh, covering the face is not a requirement for Muslim women. He said that even if a Muslim woman covers her face as an act of piety, she is supposed to uncover her face for identification purposes.

According to the DMV, the law allowing people to wear religous headwear has been on the books since at least 1997.

In Virginia, veils which obstruct the face are not allowed.

In South Carolina, a headdress for religious purpose is allowed and drivers can even object to having their picture taken at all.

Note: On Nov. 1, new applicants for a North Carolina learner's permit, driver's license or identification card must submit a document with their names and a North Carolina address. The law originally was to go into effect Jan. 1, but it was moved up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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