Senator Flanagan’s Legislation To Enhance Security Of Driver’s Licenses Passes Senate

John J. Flanagan

March 26, 2009


Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) announced today that legislation he sponsored to protect a New York State Department of Motor Vehicle driver’s license policy implemented in 2001 to help prevent fraud has passed the New York State Senate.

The policy was legally challenged as unconstitutional but recently upheld by the Court of Appeals. Senator Flanagan’s legislation would ensure that this important anti-fraud policy is continued into the future by establishing it as state law.

"The DMV has instituted a reasonable and fair policy for issuing driver’s licenses and non-driver’s identifications, and the Legislature needs to give it the full strength of New York State law. The fact is, a driver’s license is a privilege -- not a right -- that has the power of granting the license holder broad access to all sorts of secure and non-secure places. The DMV has a duty to know when a person is legitimately entitled to carry such an important legal document and this policy is the right step to fulfilling that obligation," stated Senator Flanagan. "The legislation I have introduced today will not only protect this policy going forward, but will also protect the public at large from dishonest individuals trying to unlawfully obtain valid identification."

Prior to the policy’s implementation on September 6, 2001, applicants for driver’s licenses and non-driver’s photo identifications had to prove their identity by submitting a social security card or a letter from the Social Security Administration explaining that they are ineligible for a social security number. Either form of identification was sufficient to verify a person’s eligibility to receive a valid driver’s license or photo id.

Under the new policy, persons unable to produce a social security card now have to provide documents from the United States Department of Homeland Security verifying their identity. This added layer of security was needed because the letter previously required from the Social Security Administration was too easily falsified.

Senator Flanagan’s legislation would permanently establish this critically important regulation into state law and would prevent any weakening of its enforcement.

While campaigning in 2006, Governor Eliot Spitzer promised to reverse the DMV’s policy believing it to be discriminatory against undocumented aliens. He recently reiterated his desire to overturn the policy after the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the DMV.

"This is a policy aimed at protecting the public by preventing fraud and it should be left in place. In the world we live in today, there is a real need for verifiable proof of identity and we can not accept anything less. The previous administration had the foresight to implement a policy before 9/11 to enhance the security of our state and make sure that licenses are only granted to legitimate, law-abiding individuals. I hope that the Assembly and Governor will respect that foresight and support this important security measure," stated Senator Flanagan.