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House panel advances short-term driver's licenses

Posted: January 30, 2013 - 12:00am

JUNEAU — An Alaska House committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would allow the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue short-term drivers licenses to temporary residents.

HB1, by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, would allow the department to issue licenses that expire as soon as a temporary resident’s authorization to live in the U.S. has finished.

“The way it is today, somebody with a visa — a visitor to the United States — that expires in two weeks can walk into the DMV and get a driver’s license that doesn’t expire for five years. This bill simply links the duration of the driver’s license to the duration of the visa, or any other legal kind of document,” Lynn said at a hearing of the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning.

The measure also would require residents who are authorized to stay indefinitely to renew their license every year, but they would be allowed to renew their license by mail. Applicable renewal fees would be waived for the first five years.

A standard Alaska driver’s license expires on the licensee’s birthday five years after the license was issued.

The bill does not discuss state identification cards, which can be issued for under five years, nor does it change the documentation or verification procedures that the DMV uses today.

Some committee members expressed concern over potential loopholes and a lack of regulatory standards. When renewing a license — either through mail or in person — drivers do not need to re-submit any form of identification. If a temporary citizen were to legally extend his or her stay, the DMV would need to create a system for short-term license holders to renew, according to Shelly Mellott, deputy director of the DMV.

North Pole Rep. Doug Isaacson, who has added his name as co-sponsor of the bill, said he thinks the bill’s secondary intent “is to not allow an illegal immigrant to have a document that says that they’re legal in Alaska.”

The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

___

Online:

Details on HB1: http://bit.ly/WvM1AO

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