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MVD affiliate sued over license denial

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

A woman and her lawyer husband are suing a private Motor Vehicle Division affiliate for denying her driver’s license renewal because her Social Security card was laminated and, as a stay-at-home wife her whole adult life, she didn’t have the required alternate employment documents.

Nancy Roehl, 66, laminated her card for her first job when she was a teenager in Hawaii. If she hadn’t laminated it, “it would be in tatters now,” her husband Jerrald Roehl said.

In July, the Roehls went to the MVD Now office on Fourth and Montaño with all Nancy’s documentation in order, but she was denied, and the staff told them “Social Security on its website suggests you don’t laminate the card” for security reasons, Jerrald said.

“But that wasn’t part of the law. Somebody just willy-nilly said that’s what we’re going to do, and I thought that is completely improper,” Jerrald said.

As alternative documents, Nancy could have provided the office with her 1099, W-2 or other documents from employment.

“She’s a stay-at-home mom, she doesn’t get a 1099 or a W-2, that’s why I thought it was discriminatory,” Jerrald said.

So he filed a lawsuit on his wife’s behalf – and possibly “on behalf of all women in the state who are stay-at-home moms who have to go through this procedure because they have a laminated Social Security card.”

A judge would have to agree to make the lawsuit a class action suit. A hearing in the case has not been set.

MVD Now declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the state Motor Vehicle Division, which sets the policies private affiliates must follow, is trying to figure out its stance on laminated cards.

In November 2016 – seven months before Roehl’s frustrating visit – an MVD spokeswoman told the Journal that altered cards are not accepted at state and thus at affiliate offices.

That same month, the division changed its policy and started accepting laminated cards, MVD spokesman Ben Cloutier said last week.

But on Friday, in response to Journal requests for how that decision was communicated to affiliates, Cloutier said MVD has accepted laminated cards since 2007.

Cloutier said that MVD “communicated the policy of allowing laminated Social Security cards to MVD partners, first in late 2007 and again in early 2015. In 2015, the division issued a Policy Quick Update (PQU) which was posted on MVD’s Intranet, accessible by all MVD employees and partners, advising that laminated Social Security Cards are acceptable.”

He also said that MVD made an effort to keep laminated cards sanctioned as part of the Real ID Act, which is a federal standardized and Department of Homeland Security-sanctioned identification card.

Cloutier said MVD and affiliates don’t check the security features found in the paper of the card, the parts of the card the Social Security Administration says are obscured by laminating. The MVD process at all locations is just to check the Social Security number in a database, and that can be done whether a card is laminated or not.

“We do accept Social Security cards that are laminated. We can do that because we automatically use a computer system,” Cloutier said.

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