PASS ID Act: A Boon for Criminals

By Janice Kephart on July 27, 2009

In November 2008, an illegal immigrant facing deportation and running for political office in Rhode Island was prosecuted and found guilty of using her position as a Rhode Island DMV clerk to sell driver's licenses to "out of state" drug dealers with stolen identities. The scam included 11 others. The beauty of the scam was that the DMV clerk, Dolores Rodriguez LaFlamme, was able to pursue her illegal activity because Rhode Island does not verify an applicant's license information from another state.

But no other state does either, which is why the 2005 federal secure driver's license law, REAL ID, imposed a "one driver/one license" rule on states, requiring them to ensure that applicants be vetted for other licenses in other states before being issued a license. That rule exists because 18 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were able to get a total of 30 driver's licenses and non-driver IDs from multiple states.

If REAL ID stays in effect, corrupt government workers considering the LaFlamme scam will be out of luck: millions of dollars under the current federal driver's license security law are being used right now to fix this problem of states being unable to query other states to verify out-of-state driver's license information.

However, if the proposed PASS ID legislation is approved, as DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the National Governors Association, and a handful of Democrats and even fewer Republicans want, the LaFlamme scam will remain viable. Why? PASS ID repeals the "one driver/one license" rule of REAL ID. Instead, it gives a wink and a nod to the current efforts to streamline applicant vetting by turning this important REAL ID program into a "demonstration project" geared towards never seeing the light of day.

If Ms. LaFlamme had had the chance to win political office and not be deported or not go to jail, I'm sure she’d be a big advocate of PASS ID. Because it is folks like her, not the law-abiding, who would most benefit from PASS ID allowing states to keep blinders on in regard to who their applicants are, and whether they legitimately earn the privilege of a state-issued ID.

Oh, and the added benefit Ms. LaFlamme provided her drug-dealing clients: no interviews and no driving tests. The roads were all the more unsafe, thanks to Ms. LaFlamme. The sorry end note is, there are lots of scams like this one out there. This one just had a little extra heat in it.