Posted on May 10, 2005

States May Disobey Driver’s License Rules

Suzanne Gamboa, AP, May 10

WASHINGTON—States are threatening to challenge in court and even disobey new orders from Congress to start issuing more uniform driver’s licenses and verify the citizenship or legal status of people getting them.

There is concern among some states that they’ll get stuck with a large tab to pay for implementing the new rules and that getting a driver’s license will become a bigger headache for law-abiding residents.

“Governors are looking at all their options. If more than half of the governors agree we’re not going down without a fight on this, Congress will have to consider changing this unfunded federal mandate,” said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, vice chairman of the National Governors Association. A Huckabee aide said the options include court action.

States fear the new rules may force applicants to make more than one trip to motor vehicle departments, once to provide documents such as birth certificates that states must verify and a second time to pick up the license, state officials said.

“What passed is something that will be an enormous amount of work and it’s questionable what it’s going to yield,” said Democrat Matt Dunlap, Maine’s secretary of state. “Is it going to yield national security or is it going to be hassle for people already complying with the law?”


States will have three years after the president signs the bill to obey the rules. If they don’t, their residents won’t be able to board planes or enter federally protected buildings.

States also question how they will verify birth certificates, whose appearance vary widely by state and county. Dunlap said his state has only a portion of birth certificates online.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia verify Social Security numbers online with the federal government or by another method, said Mark Lassiter, Social Security Administration spokesman.


National Governors Association:

National Conference of State Legislatures:

Rep. James Sensenbrenner: