NEW YORK — Senator Daphne Jordan (R,C,I,Ref-Halfmoon) introduced two pieces of legislation to protect the individuals working at State and County DMV offices and duly elected County Clerks who serve taxpayers. Senate bill S.6907 would indemnify DMV employees and County Clerks from lawsuits arising from criminal acts related to the use of non-federally compliant driver’s licenses expected under NY’s new Green Light Law.
Senator Jordan’s second piece of legislation would amend the Green Light Law, creating a “Driver Privilege License” for those who cannot prove their lawful status in the United States. This legislation addresses concerns by law enforcement and County Clerks regarding identity fraud stemming from the lax regulations and qualifications for a NYS Standard Driver License, allowing for holders to earn the privilege to drive while restoring security standards in the issuance of Standard Driver Licenses, which are also used as identification by 70-percent of New York drivers.
Section 1 of Senator Jordan’s new bill amends Section 502 of the State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law and provides that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, County Clerks, and their employees shall be held harmless for any claims, liabilities, damages, or fines arising from any criminal act involving non-federal standard drivers licenses created by New York’s Green Light Law. This includes, but is not limited to ID theft, forgery, money laundering, and terrorism. Chapter 37 of the Laws of 2019 (aka the Green Light Law) that provided for the creation of a system of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, has created unprecedented challenges for DMV employees and County Clerks. Central among these issues is the fundamental undermining of the reliability of the identification, as the State can no longer guarantee an individual is who their identification says they are. The Green Light Law allows for foreign forms of identification to be used as proof of identity, and foreign forms of identification can be easily forged. The United States, as of 2017, recognizes 193 foreign countries, and, to date, the State has provided inadequate resources for DMV staff to determine the authenticity of foreign documents.
Senator Jordan’s new bill ensures that DMV employees, the DMV Commissioner, and County Clerks acting in good faith are indemnified and held harmless in lawsuits arising from criminal acts relating to the use of non-federally compliant drivers’ licenses provided for under New York’s Green Light Law. Senator Jordan’s new legislation does not carry any fiscal implications to the state.
“I have introduced legislation aimed at protecting DMV employees from the lawsuits expected to be filed in response to the drivers’ licenses being used in the commission of criminal acts because the men and women working at DMV’s should be held harmless from Albany’s lack of regard for public safety,” stated the senator. “I also introduced a bill to mitigate the expected explosion of ID fraud by establishing a new ‘Driving Privilege License’ and stipulating that individuals must provide their Social Security Number when registering to vote to establish their identity as American citizens. My bills are common-sense steps to try and address the many shortfalls of the Green Light Law that will make our state and our streets less safe and throw open the doors to identity fraud and voter fraud.”
Saratoga County Clerk Craig Hayner said, “A New York State driver license is not just a license to drive; it is the primary identification document used by most New Yorkers.
The identification standards have been so widely loosened that it makes the Standard Driver License unreliable as an ID for the millions of New Yorkers who hold one and the thousands of businesses that rely on it as a source of identification in their daily business transactions. I am thankful to Senator Jordan for her understanding of the dangerous implications that could come from nefarious individuals taking advantage of our honest DMV employees and the inadequate regulations and for this much-needed legislation.”
Saratoga County Sherriff Michael Zurlo said, “With nearly 90-percent of the driving public using their driver license as their primary identification, New York’s watered-down qualifications for the Standard license invites the criminal element to exploit the system. Further, with no means to track the source documents used to get a Standard license, our deputies’ hands are tied when it comes to ensuring people are who they say they are and investigating related crimes. I commend Senator Jordan for keeping this important issue in the public eye.”