State Will Likely Keep No-Photo Licenses

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(Host) The Legislature is unlikely to pass legislation mandating that all drivers in the state have their photograph on their license. Motor Vehicles Commissioner Bonnie Rutledge says she’s disappointed by the lack of action.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) It now seems very likely that Vermont is going to keep its distinction of being the only state in the country that does not require a photo driver’s license.

The Dean administration has urged lawmakers to pass a bill mandating that all people have their photograph on their state driver’s license. But the House Transportation Committee has shown little interest in the bill and the Senate Transportation Committee is deadlocked over the proposal.

Senate Transportation Chairman Dick Mazza says he had concerns about the availability of photo equipment at DMV branch offices around the state but he decided to support the bill when DMV Commissioner Bonnie Rutledge proposed a number of innovative solutions:

(Mazza) "The other issue was we could tie into, town clerks to do it at their place in town. So I thought that was going to be resolved. The commissioner assured me that that was all going to be done, so at that point my concerns were addressed and I felt that it was something I could live with."

(Kinzel) But Addison County Senator Tom Bahre had strong concerns about the security of the DMV system:

(Bahre) "Even the commissioner concedes that if my wallet is laying on the ground and somebody that’s roughly my age can get their picture put on my information – until we solve that problem and until we make it easy for our citizens to go get this and possibly even then, I can’t visualize the advantage of making it mandatory."

(Kinzel) DMV Commissioner Bonnie Rutledge says she is surprised that lawmakers are not more enthusiastic about this bill in light of the events of September 11:

(Rutledge) "All of the issues around identity and people obtaining documents fraudulently and people assuming other people’s identities for things that had been in the media over this part year – that perhaps that would have heightened people’s awareness enough to get some momentum for the bill to pass."

(Kinzel) It’s possible that a plan mandating a photo driver’s license could still be attached to a different transportation bill but supporters of the proposal say even that option appears unlikely at this time.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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