AUSTIN (KXAN) – Most of us have a driver’s license, and at some point you will have to get it renewed. But the next time you head to the DMV, be prepared to hand over one more piece of information.
The Department of Public Safety quietly started requiring all 10 fingerprints earlier this year. DPS says the new policy will help reduce fraud and identity theft. They also believe it will deter terrorists and other criminals from getting Texas driver’s licenses.
They say 10 fingerprints, rather than just one, accurately establishes a person identity, and helps fill major gaps in public safety.
Elgin resident, J.M. Stovall, noticed the change when renewing his license on Friday.
“I pretty much obey the law,” said Stovall, who says he’s not opposed to the new rule, adding that driving is privilege and not a right. “If everybody else does, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
However, others disagree.
“It’s like a little bit of a shock,” said Susan Campbell, “I think it’s an invasion.”
Civil rights attorney Tim Mahoney doesn’t like the new rule either.
“Having an expansion of our fingerprint system for citizens without criminal history is appalling,” said Mahoney.
He believes all Texans should be concerned at the government’s tendency to collect information.
“I think it’s time we start having positive relationships with each other. That’s where we get respect from the government, when we’re able to work together. Having a database with our fingerprints is not something designed to engender mutual respect.”
DPS says the only way to opt out of the new policy is simply not getting or renewing your Texas license. Since the rollout earlier this year, there have been three matches linking driver’s license applicants to unsolved prints related to crimes.
DPS tells us that the 10-print fingerprint process is authorized under an existing Texas law. It also allows the DPS system to include our driver’s license photos in the database. The agency can also use facial detection software, to compare drivers’ license images against suspect descriptions and composite sketches.