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Drivers Now Must Prove State Residency

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Susan Gilmore and Lornet Turnbull, Seattle Times, May 10, 2007

New Washington drivers must now prove state residency before they can get a driver’s license.

Under new policies put in place this week, all first-time drivers, those seeking instruction permits, those applying for ID cards and out-of-state drivers must prove they live in Washington to get a license.

You have always had to be a Washington resident to get a license, but it hasn’t always been enforced, said Brad Benfield with the state Department of Licensing.

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The change was driven by cases in which drivers — particularly commercial drivers who aren’t in the country legally — would come to Washington to get their driver’s licenses because the state doesn’t require proof of citizenship. They then would take their licenses back to their home states and exchange them for their state’s license.

Benfield said there are seven states that do not require proof of legal residence in the United States to obtain a driver’s license.

In March, an illegal immigrant from Ecuador was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud. Officials say he helped more than 300 other Ecuadorians — most of them also illegal immigrants — fraudulently obtain Washington driver’s licenses.

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Under the policy change, acceptable forms of identification are home-utility bills dated within two months of the date of application for a license, home-mortgage information or voter-registration cards.

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Original article

Email Susan Gilmore at sgilmore@seattletimes.com.

(Posted on May 11, 2007)

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