Friday, December 21, 2012

Bellevue cites license-less drivers

Legal status required by Department of Motor Vehicles

Express Staff Writer

A spike in citations made by the Bellevue Marshal’s Office to drivers who failed to purchase driver’s licenses within 90 days of moving to Idaho brought to light last week the issue of undocumented immigrant drivers.

At a Bellevue City Council meeting Dec. 13, Councilman Larry Plott, a former policeman, questioned Marshal Larry Clark about the eight misdemeanor citations written in November to drivers for failure to purchase an Idaho driver’s license.

Clark speculated that the reason the cited drivers had not obtained driver’s licenses was because they were not in the country legally and therefore could not have produced the necessary paperwork.

State law requires that any driver living in Idaho more than 90 days must get an Idaho driver’s license. Those who are not U.S. citizens must present proof of lawful residence, which could include permanent resident status, a temporary work permit or student visa.

Driver’s licenses can be used to get a library card at the Bellevue Public Library or to get on an airplane in the United States. 

Only two states do not require “lawful presence” requirements to obtain a driver’s license. They are New Mexico and Washington. Proponents of allowing undocumented people to get driver’s licenses say it would bring greater driver safety. Opponents say it would allow for easier illegal immigration.

Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey said the requirements for lawful presence in Idaho became stricter following the terrorist attacks of 9-11. 

“If Idaho does not meet the federal requirements, Idaho driver’s licenses could no longer be used for getting on an airplane,” Ramsey said.

The Pew Research Center reported recently that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., down from a peak of 12 million in 2007.

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