Friday, March 16, 2007

It's not just in Alaska....

I've had several emails inquiring about this blog entry . Most wanted to know what I was required to sign at DMV to renew my driver's license. I filed a complaint with the ACLU, but so far I have had no reply from them. When I asked how long it would be before they could investigate, they said they are understaffed and it may take six months. This is what I wrote to them. Recently I sent it to The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC to see if they had a reporter who would want to do a story on it.

I went to the DMV at 9701 Capital Blvd. to renew my driver's license on or about January 3, 2007. After waiting for over two hours and in the process of paying for my renewal, I was given a form which is a registration requirement for certain offenders (sex offenders) and was told to sign it. I was running late and signed it so I could get my driver's license and make it to pick my husband up on time. As I was driving away, I wondered, "What has renewing a driver's license got to do with sex offenses? Why did I sign the form without asking for their authority to require my signature?"

I called (919) 570-1016 and asked if someone could read the form I had signed and asked if I would have been refused a driver's license if I had not signed. I was told that I would have to sign it and that every person who comes in for service whether for driver's license or identification purposes would be required to sign it.

After the form was read to me over the phone, I stated that I could not see anything in it that required DMV to get this signed before I received a license. It was only information on the convicted sexual offender's requirements to register with the sheriff within 10 to 15 days of moving to the county or state.

I asked for the statute number and also for documentation that DMV was required by law to obtain this signed form. I was given the statute number of 14-208.7. I told her that this did not seem right as being a sexual offender had absolutely nothing to do with the driver's license and ability to drive. I told her that I could understand why there are laws about driving while intoxicated and how that can be used against your driving record. However, unless a sexual offender was using a motor vehicle in association with the sexual offense, it is not even related and I have never seen a statement in the driver's manual that connected the two.

With this type of encompassing power, it could end up that every single law that is passed must be signed on by every person who frequents a government agency even if nothing related to their department or in their jurisdiction. That in itself would be discriminatory as every citizen would not be required to sign every form. Furthermore, we are not a police state. We are to know the law and ignorance of the law does not insulate us from being punished for violating the law.

The DMV employee said that I should call another number and talk to a supervisor or she would have the supervisor call me. In the meantime, I read the NC statute related to the issue. The supervisor returned my call that day, but I was not home. I took the caller ID number (919 570-1032) off of my phone and called her the next day. She stated the same information as the first employee. She stated that it is their job to get these forms signed. When I stated my reasoning that this should not be as it is, she said, "We require everyone who gets any service at DMV to sign the form." I said, "What if I had refused to sign it?" She responded, "We can refuse to give service." She then attempted to justify this one form by saying that DMV also registers people for voting. I asked if someone refused to register to vote, do they refuse him/her a driver's license? She said, "No."

I must say that the three employees that I spoke to were all very professional and all understood where I was coming from. Two stated, "I am just doing my job."

It is my suspicion that DMV has been appointed for this role or has accepted this role as most sex offenders have driver's license and it is an easy method to be certain that sex offenders cannot say they do not know the law. There are better methods to accomplish this without infringing on the civil liberties of innocent citizens. If sex offenders are required to register with the sheriff, then that is where it should end. Otherwise, the law should say that they need to register with DMV. Still, I and all other North Carolina law-abiding citizens should not even be bothered with this form. I would like to see the DMV be required to destroy all signed forms due to violating our civil liberties.

I will post to the blog if anything comes of this. Of course, something will. My husband will probably cause a big commotion when he goes to renew his driver's license in June.

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