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2008 News Releases

ACLU Sues DMV Over Social Security Card Demand

Posted: February 14, 2008|Category: Due Process

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The Rhode Island ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the Division of Motor Vehicles, challenging the agency’s recent implementation of a policy requiring all people renewing their driver’s licenses to present their Social Security card. The lawsuit, filed in R.I. Superior Court by ACLU volunteer attorney James Kelleher, argues that the DMV has no statutory authority to implement the policy and that it violates the due process rights of licensees.

The suit was brought on behalf of Providence resident Wendy Becker, whose driver’s license is up for renewal this month. She does not have her Social Security card, and on that basis was denied a license renewal when she went to the DMV, even though she provided other documentation containing her Social Security Number.

Although the DMV has claimed that the policy was adopted in order to comply with federal law, the lawsuit states that there is no basis for that claim. The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring the DMV policy unconstitutional and requiring the agency to renew Becker’s license if she meets all other lawful requirements for a renewal.

RI ACLU executive director Steven Brown said today: “The DMV’s requirement imposes a significant burden on many Rhode Islanders who have long since forgotten what they did with their Social Security card. This policy can be extremely onerous for people with disabilities and the elderly, as well as for working adults who must find the time to get to the Social Security office in order to meet this unnecessary demand. As for the DMV’s claim that the card is needed to confirm the person’s identity, there is something slightly ludicrous in demanding a document that contains an explicit command on its face that it is ‘not for identification.’”

The ACLU expects a court hearing later this month on its request for an order voiding the policy.

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