Bill Would Require More License Renewals for Drivers on Visas
Friday, February 28 2014
Alaska’s legislature has passed a bill that would tie the validity of driver’s licenses to immigration visas.
Usually, an Alaska driver’s license is good for five years after it’s issued. Legislation introduced by Republican representative Bob Lynn of Anchorage would make licenses expire on the same day as a foreign driver’s visa.
If the driver has an indeterminate immigration status, meaning they can stay in the country indefinitely, their license will only last for one year. Their renewal fees will be waived every year for up to five years.
Opponents including the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the bill might violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, by making immigrants jump through extra hoops to secure licenses. The ACLU also said that Alaska’s Division of Motor Vehicles isn’t qualified to judge immigration statuses, which can be complicated.
Lynn, the bill’s sponsor, said similar laws are on the books in 36 other states and the District of Columbia, and they haven’t prompted litigation so far. He also pointed out that the DMV already has to review immigration visas when foreign drivers apply for licenses, to verify they’re eligible.
House Bill 1l made it through the Senate Friday by a vote of 13-4. The House approved the bill by a vote of 29-7 last April, with Rep. Bryce Edgmon supporting the legislation and Rep. Bob Herron excused.
The bill is now off to Governor Sean Parnell for his signature.