DPS May Not Recognize Your Driver’s License
With school out for the summer, some parents and their teenage kids will be taking their first steps toward getting a driver’s license. Step one, of course, is getting a learner’s permit. But a new Texas law means bringing more paperwork to the local DPS.
Rob Kendrick and his son thought they had everything they needed to get a learner’s permit. Birth certificate, check. Insurance card, check. And the elder Kendrick’s Texas driver’s license to show they lived in-state. But the Texas license was rejected.
“I was told that my Texas driver’s license was not a valid form of identification at the DPS office,” Kendrick said.
The new law, which was implemented in May, says that anyone wanting to get a new Texas license needs to bring in proof they’ve lived in Texas for at least the past 30 days. Documents like water bills or bank statements suffice. But not your Texas license, unless it’s been issued since May.
“I was a little surprised, because I use that same that same ID to get through TSA airport security,” Kendrick said. “So I found it amazing that the issuing agency didn’t respect their own form of ID.”
Not knowing about the new rule meant an extra 35-minute round-trip drive to his bank to get a printed statement showing he lives in town.
So what’s the reason for the new law? Luis Figueroa, who follows the Texas Legislature for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, says it and other requirements have been put in place for various reasons.
“Initially there were concerns about people harvesting driver’s licenses in Texas and taking them to other states,” Figueroa said. “And that was the rationale for the proof of immigration status: the proof of lawful presence.”
But he says all reasons point back to lawmakers’ attempts to make life more difficult for immigrants, legal or illegal, to live in Texas.
“And it’s unfortunate, because it affects immigrants and citizens alike,” he said. “It does make more bureaucracies and more obstacles to gain a driver’s license for people who are lawfully present as well as U.S. citizens.”
Austinite Kendrick says he’s an example of that.