Fingerprint identification to be removed from Georgia licenses

| 4/14/2005

For the first time in almost a decade, drivers in Georgia won’t have to give up their fingerprints when they renew their driver’s licenses.

Since 1996, residents of the state have been required to submit their fingerprints when they are initially licensed and upon each renewal. However, a new bill would eliminate the fingerprinting process, and would also call for the destruction of all existing driver’s license fingerprint records.

The measure, House Bill 577, passed through the House and Senate with little conflict and is currently awaiting approval from the governor. If passed, the bill would do away with fingerprinting by July of 2006.

Proponents of the bill, which has seen a bipartisan effort in its push toward the governor’s desk, said the collection of prints is an invasion of individual privacy, as well as a security risk.

“Anytime the government is collecting biometric data about individuals, it’s actually very, very dangerous,” ACLU lobbyist Maggie Garrett told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It actually makes us less safe because it opens us up to identity theft and all sorts of problems.”

Department of Motor Vehicle Services officials say the extra information can be a deterrent to potential criminals.

“Crooks know we require fingerprints, so it’s not in their best interest to commit driver’s license fraud in the state,” Ronny Johnson, director of driver services for DMVS, told the Journal-Constitution.

Georgia is one of eight states and the District of Columbia to use biological identifiers for driver’s licenses.

– By Aaron Ladage, Land Line staff