New York's 'Green-Light Law': A Boon to Frat Boys

As well as criminals and terrorists

By Andrew R. Arthur on February 7, 2020

There is so much that I could (and will) say about New York's new Driver's License Access and Privacy Act, commonly known as the "Green-Light law". But secure in the knowledge that base arguments beat intellectual ones any day, and having been raised on a steady diet of National Lampoon's Animal House and college chicanery (I actually lived in a garage while at university): If you are under-age, and want to buy some White Claw, Bud Light Seltzer, or just some good old Jack Black, N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo (not the ripped one on TV — his brother) is your new best friend, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office at 2875 W 8th St, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11224, should be your second stop.

Your first stop? You know that guy who sells the West Virginia "driver's licenses" two dorms over? Let's call him "Mike". He will soon be in the business of selling fake foreign documents — a lot easier and a whole lot less risk. Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammed did it, and made some serious cash: $60K in 14 months. Mike might never graduate!

Look, West Virginia is an actual, like, state, and smart bars (we will call ours "The Cadillac Grille") will keep a book to tell the "good driver's licenses" (wink-wink) from the bad ones. But what if that is where the Kappas hang out, or the girl from Sociology who smells like patchouli whom you would like to meet? You need a real document.

Plus, the West Virginia po-po might not like his business and get back to Mike. Who in Andorra is going to show up at Mike's dorm looking for the guy selling bogus Andorran IDs?

So Mike, if he is smart, will soon get into the business of selling consular identification. Yeah, he will tell you, they are still bogus, but good enough to get a new, real, New York identification card. Here is what subsection 3.1 of the Green-Light law says:

With respect to a non-commercial driver's license or learner's permit which [sic] does not meet federal standards for identification, in addition to the acceptable proofs of age and identity approved by the commissioner as of January first, two thousand nineteen, acceptable proof of identity shall also include, but not be limited to, a valid, unexpired foreign passport issued by the applicant's country of citizenship (which shall also be eligible as proof of age), a valid, unexpired consular identification document issued by a consulate from the applicant's country of citizenship, or a valid foreign driver's license that includes a photo image of the applicant and which is unexpired or expired for less than twenty-four months of its date of expiration, as primary forms of such proof. Nothing contained in this subdivision shall be deemed to preclude the commissioner from approving additional proofs of identity and age.

But what about the "proofs of identity and age"? Bro, you think the boomers in Albany mean that? You think they are willing to take some foreign ID, but are going to force you to go to The Man to get proof of age? No way.

Get one from, like Argentina (who even knows if they issue consular IDS, right?), with your age on it. Boom! Mic drop. That clerk in Brooklyn is going to take one look at your new Argentina ID and not want the hassle with some foreign government and say, "What is life like in, um, Argentina?" and you respond, "We got some great beaches and the beef is awesome!" Or, you can be on the safe side and just get a birth certificate from Buenos Aires, too. No picture — cause you were a baby! — but a date of birth.

Now the law does say:

The commissioner and any agent or employee of the commissioner shall not retain the documents or copies of documents presented by applicants for non-commercial drivers' licenses or learners' permits which do not meet federal standards for identification to prove age or identity except for a limited period necessary to ensure the validity and authenticity of such documents.

That will be a load off Mike's mind, because there will be no evidence of his fraud: "It wasn't me, brah." As for keeping your Argentinian ID and birth certificate — what are they gonna do? Mail it to Argentina? Who can some DMV clerk in Brooklyn ask: her supervisor? "Say — is this a good Buenos Aires birth certificate?" "Look, I'm busy, you're busy, can we get this moving? And besides, if the New York legislature cared, they would set up a system to verify these things." Next!

Now, you might need your brochacho from Montauk to give you an address, but he is good with that, right? Remember the time you held his feet while he was doing keg stands? He owes you. Maybe even get Mike to give him a new Argentinian ID to make the deal sweeter.

Road trip with your boys to Brooklyn. Make sure you each get a different clerk — look, they work all day and rarely get breaks, so they probably won't talk about the polite but shaggy Argentine guy they met for a few days, but if you show up one after another to the same person you could get shot down, and have to head to Yonkers. You got a Macro paper to get back to, so let's make this quick.

You will have to sign an affidavit that you don't have a Social Security number, but let's face it — even if you do you probably don't remember it. Cuomo could not have made this easier! Take the driver's test (put the car into gear, parallel park, box escape, back to the parking lot), and, voila, the Cadillac Grille is your new home away from dorm!

Please note, of course, that the advice given herein is parody, "reductio ad fraternitatem" if you will, and not to be seriously followed — doing so could result in jail time if the cops check your New York ID against your college ID. But hopefully it shows a major weakness in this law.

Because underage drinking is the least harmful effect of this law, as Center for Immigration Studies analysis has shown:

The primary beneficiaries of this law are aliens living illegally in the United States.


Other beneficiaries include those who wish to obtain a government identification document in an assumed name in order to commit fraud, evade justice, avoid scrutiny (in the case of registered sex offenders, debtors, and deadbeat parents), or further other criminal or terrorist activity. Under the right circumstances, anyone can obtain a foreign-issued document of unknown veracity and establish an identity endorsed by the state of New York.

A third group that benefits is the subset of employers who are amenable to hiring aliens without work authorization. This new law will afford them plausible deniability in the hiring process: "Gee, they had documents!" It also makes the document holders more desirable as employees, since they now can use company vehicles at work. In addition, having the ability to drive to work often lessens the likelihood of absenteeism.

In talking about Muhammad's document fraud (which he had committed in Antigua, where he had fled in the midst of a custody battle with his second wife), my old boss, then-House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) noted: "Fraudulent documents expose the American people to a serious terrorist and criminal risk that they would not face if these departments fully enforced our laws." The "departments" in that case were the Departments of State and Judiciary, who had been warned by a keen-eyed consular official that Muhammad had also applied for a passport using a forged birth certificate.

In this case, it is the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, at the diktat of the state legislature. But, Sensenbrenner's words are as true today as they were 17 years ago when he made them. He would know: He was the author of the USA-PATRIOT Act, written to address the factors that facilitated the 19 hijackers in killing 2,977 innocent people on September 11, 2001.

In my next posts, I will discuss how worthless breeder documents like the Green-Light driver's licenses, and the law itself, repeat the mistakes that led to that horrible day.