N.Y. ‘9/11’ Check Yanks 300k Driver Licenses
Al Guart, NY Post, Aug. 19
Up to 300,000 New Yorkers will have their driver’s licenses yanked because they provided bogus Social Security numbers, Department of Motor Vehicles officials told The Post yesterday.
Between 275,000 and 300,000 of the state’s 11.2 million drivers will lose their licenses thanks to a post-9/11 check of Social Security numbers listed on driver’s license applications, said John Hilliard, DMV deputy commissioner for operations.
The program began last December, when the DMV sent driver information to the Social Security Administration.
Social Security numbers for 600,000 drivers didn’t match those on file at the SSA, Hilliard said.
The DMV began sending out 4,000 notices per day telling motorists they had to verify the numbers or have their licenses suspended. Roughly half of those who received the mailings were able to clear up the matter.
“We had cases where a woman was married and her name didn’t match up, or where one of our clerks transposed a number,” Hilliard said.
So far, roughly 500,000 letters have been sent out and 251,000 motorists were able to verify their Social Security numbers, Hilliard said.
DMV officials also found a “unique group” in which the same number was used by more than two people, including one number that turned up on 57 driver’s license applications, Hilliard said.
To date, the DMV suspended 607 licenses of drivers in that group, with another 450 more motorists from that pool expected to follow, Hilliard said.
“These were cases where they know they committed fraud,” Hilliard said.
Between January and July, 598 drivers found themselves in handcuffs after coming into their local DMV office with bogus Social Security cards.
Facing felony charges for passing off fraudulent documents, some drivers decided to cooperate with investigators and led authorities to phony document mills, Hilliard said.
DMV commissioner Raymond Martinez will present the findings at a state Assembly Transportation Committee hearing in Manhattan tomorrow.
Critics of the program, who plan to protest at the hearing, say it will hurt working immigrants who drive for a living.
“There are other options the DMV can follow consistent with existing law that would really lessen the hardship that is happening, and provide more opportunity for immigrants living and working in this community,” said Amy Sugimori, staff lawyer for the National Employment Law Project.
“I would rather more people have licenses and insurance than not.”
(Posted on August 20, 2004)