Local News

DMV To Toughen Rules For Illegal Immigrants To Get N.C. Driver Licenses

Posted January 2, 2004 5:13 a.m. EST

— It is tougher than ever to get a North Carolina driver's license. In fact, new laws aim to make it impossible for some. It is all part of security measures meant to keep everyone safe, but not everyone is happy about it.


state Division of Motor Vehicles

wants to keep driver's licenses out of the hands of potential terrorists, but new rules will impact all immigrants.

For years, the state did not care whether drivers were here legally, as long as they passed their driving test.

Operation Stop Fraud

seeks to change that.

On Feb. 2, new guidelines will limit forms of identification accepted when applying for a North Carolina driver's license.

The DMV will only accept valid licenses from other states or Canada, Social Security cards, valid immigration papers and state vehicle registration or title certificates. IDs issued by the Mexican consulate will no longer be accepted.

"Whatever it takes to ensure our security is the thing that needs to be done," said Rep. Russell Capps, R-Wake County.

Capps hopes the changes will also help weed out illegal immigrants.

"I think we need to do something about the illegal alien problem in this country and I think it's one of our major concerns as far as security," he said.

"As a community of Latinos that are here working, we believe we are being unfairly punished," said Andrea Bazan Mason of El Pueblo.

Latino advocates fear the tighter identification rules will motivate counterfeit ID makers and push many workers to avoid the driving test, but still drive.

"I believe we should be able to provide a driver's license to everyone in North Carolina driving," Manson said.

The DMV contends the new rules will take away much of the guesswork for examiners reading foreign documents. Whatever the outcome, the change puts the often contentious dialogue over immigration right back in the driver's seat.

"I do believe we will find a way to deal with this whole demographic change," Manson said.

The DMV is not stopping with documentation. Later this year, it will install technology to check the authenticity of passports and out-of-state driver licenses. Eventually, the DMV plans to use facial recognition software to verify pictures.