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New OR License Requirements: Tougher for Whom?

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008   

Salem, OR – Some in Oregon are cheering a new law that will make it tougher for people who aren't citizens to get valid drivers' licenses and identification cards in the state. But others point out that this also will make it tougher for everyone else who, for whatever reason, doesn't have or can't find the "certified" documents necessary to prove their identity.

Andrea Meyer, legislative director of the ACLU of Oregon, says many people find themselves short of "official" identity proof, including victims of domestic abuse and the homeless.

"They're the folks who need either a driver's license or an identification card -- and the rules and law apply to both equally -- because homeless shelters and other crisis intervention services require a form of identification."

Meyer says other potential "problem groups" are older citizens, immigrants and people who've had name changes by marriage, divorce or adoption. The new law requires the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles to help those who cannot meet the more stringent ID requirements, but provides no additional funding to do so.

The Department of Motor Vehicles got updated "biometric" face recognition software in 2005 that allowed replacement of lost and stolen licenses with less hassle, Meyer adds. But she says verifying your identity that way won't be permitted now.

"DMV will not look at your photo and go, 'Yes, based on the material you're presenting and your photograph, your biometric photo, that's you,' and reissue a new license."

When he approved the new law last week, Gov. Kulongoski said it strengthens Oregon's protections against identity fraud. Critics say that goal was already accomplished by legislation passed in 2005.

The bill signed into law last week is SB 1080; the ACLU's testimony about it is online at www.aclu-or.org.




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