Florida tightening rules for licensesBy LUCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times,
TALLAHASSEE -- State officials are tightening the rules for getting a driver's license and seeking a change in the law to make future licenses available only to Florida residents.
All of this comes after investigators learned that 13 of the 19 airliner hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 attacks obtained licenses or identification cards in Florida.
Fred Dickinson, director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, on Wednesday briefed members of a joint legislative committee on security. He said there was a "top to bottom" review of the way licenses are issued.
A $500,000 appropriation included in budget revisions legislators will approve today will help his agency buy scanning equipment needed to retain all foreign documents submitted by applicants for a driver's license, Dickinson said.
And the state will begin reviewing licenses already issued with an eye toward requiring those who did not have a complete facial picture taken to come in for a new photo. Legislators have complained that some Muslim women were allowed to get licenses while wearing veils that concealed all but their eyes. Dickinson said state law requires a full facial photo.
Dickinson said no driver's license will be issued for a period of time that exceeds the period of legal residency a foreigner has left when he applies for a license. In the past the state did not consider the length of time an applicant could legally remain in the state.
The state will soon begin issuing temporary drivers' licenses without photos to foreign nationals while they seek confirmation of their legal status in the United States. After 30 days, a regular license will be mailed to them.
Dickinson said he is also looking at other measures like using utility records to confirm residences listed by applicants.
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From the Times state desk
From the state wire