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Kokua Line

Driver’s licenses eventually need proof of legal presence

QUESTION: I received an e-mail saying that beginning in December, I will need to bring my Social Security card and birth certificate to renew my driver’s license.

It says: "So look for those documents. You can mail order copies if needed. Driver Licensing is verifying everyone in a database so you won’t get the renewed driver license on the spot." The e-mail goes on to say, "This is TRUE … Don’t forget your documents or you’ll go there for nothing!" Is this true?

ANSWER: At a certain point, all applicants for driver’s licenses and instruction permits will need to show proof that they are U.S. citizens or otherwise legally in the U.S.

But the state Department of Transportation first has to come up with administrative rules to implement Act 38, the Legal Presence Act, which was passed by the state Legislature this year.

The DOT is still working to draft the administrative rules, so nothing is definitive yet.

It also is working with each county’s motor vehicle division on the printing and mailing of renewal notices that will provide information on what documents will be accepted, said DOT spokeswoman Tammy Mori.

These notices are expected to be sent in December or January.

If Congress determines that people in each state need to present acceptable documents to prove legal presence beginning Jan. 1, then the notices will be sent in December to licensed drivers who have not renewed licenses that expire between December and June 30, 2011, Mori said.

In January the DOT will mail notices to drivers who have to renew licenses that will expire in July.

"We will make available additional/specific information as it becomes available," Mori said.

Hawaii was one of only a handful of states that did not have a legal presence law as a prerequisite to obtaining a driver’s license, according to Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division.

It is required to have such a law in order for the federal government to accept a Hawaii driver’s license as proof of identity for boarding airlines and entering federal buildings, he said.

Once the law is implemented, the state will work with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to connect with the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement program, the federal database that all jurisdictions use to determine legal presence.

QUESTION: What is the law with regard to riding in a taxi or shuttle bus with an infant or toddler while on vacation or if a car seat is not available?

ANSWER: Taxis are exempt from Hawaii’s Child Passenger Restraint Law, which requires children under 4 to be in a federally approved child safety seat or those under 8 to be in a booster seat, unless they are taller than 4 feet or weigh more than 40 pounds.

Section 291-11.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, dealing with "child restraint requirements," exempts emergency, commercial and mass transit vehicles.

It also exempts vehicles if the number of people in them exceeds the number of seat belts, IF all available seat belts are being used and if the child under 8 is riding in the back seat.


To the Queen’s Medical Center for revising their parking cost structure and now allowing patients to park for free. Parking was difficult previously, but now my wife and I actually can find a space so she can receive her weekly infusion. — Joe and Marianne

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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