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A trek through driver’s license obstacle course

THIRTY-SIX DAYS AND 10 FINGERPRINTS LATER: That’s when Sondra Diepen received her driver’s license.

The odyssey started when Sondra realized her driver authorization card had expired.

She emails that when she realized the license had lapsed, she went to a Motor Vehicle Division office and learned that because she was 12 days past the day it expired, “I now have to be fingerprinted, cost: $45, before I can go to MVD and renew my license. First appointment available, 10 days hence. What’s this penalty all about, anyway?”

It’s all part of the 2005 federal Real ID Act.

Nora Sackett of the Governor’s Office explains that “fingerprint requirements for a DAC have not changed. Anyone who is not eligible for, or simply opts not to apply for, a REAL ID (which allows you to enter certain federal buildings and fly commercial after October 2020) may apply for a DAC or non-REAL-ID-compliant ID. Fingerprints, $44, are required for those who do not have proof of legal presence or a valid N.M. credential, i.e. driver’s license or ID card, and this requirement kicked in for this customer when her driver’s license expired.”

However, there are a few other documents that folks in Sondra’s pickle can produce in place of an unexpired N.M. license to show identity and age and avoid having to be fingerprinted for a driver card.

“Other documents include a birth certificate issued by a state’s vital record division along with evidence of any name change that may have occurred, proof of Medicaid or Medicare coverage, an unexpired passport, Affidavit of Birth from a recognized tribal government agency or any other document showing legal presence from DHS such as a Permanent Resident Card, Work VISA, I-94, etc.,” Sackett says. “In other words, if she has one of the above listed documents, she is not required to get fingerprints.”

Sondra apparently did not as she went through with the fingerprinting, where she “was given a piece of paper with my photo and statistics and words saying I had a valid driver’s license, and told to come back in a week to get the results of my fingerprints/background check and get my license. Folded the paper and put it in my wallet. Came back a week later. I passed the background check! (Expected since she says she has never been arrested.) Asked for my license. ‘Oh no. You have to wait 10 days for it to come in the mail. We’ll give you a temporary drivers license.’ I thought I already had one. ‘No.’ ”

Sondra got her permanent license in the mail May 25 – “36 days since I tried to renew.” She says “I feel this has still been an outrage, having had a N.M. driver’s license since 1974 (and) taught for Albuquerque Public Schools for 22 years.”

And her journey should have everyone checking their license expiration dates sooner rather than later.

FREE CAR-SEAT SAFETY CHECK: The New Mexico Department of Transportation and Safer New Mexico Now are once again hosting free checks of your car seat and its installation.


Trained technicians will check to see if there have been any recalls on your seat, if it is in good working order, is installed correctly, and – and this is important – if it is the right size for the child using it.

So bring the car, the seat and the kid. If a seat is not installed correctly or the right fit, it will not keep that precious cargo safe in a wreck. And Safer says three out of four car seats are not installed correctly.

Here’s the schedule; call 505-856-6143 or 800-231-6145 for more information or to make an appointment.

Friday, June 7, 9-11:30 a.m.

Fire Station No. 3, 141 Girard NE, Albuquerque

Friday, June 7, 4-6 p.m.

Fire Station No. 1, 2810 Southern Blvd., Rio Rancho

Saturday, June 8, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Lovelace Women’s Hospital, 4701 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque

Friday, June 14, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

Fire Station No. 20, 7520 Corona NE, Albuquerque

Fire Station No. 3, 1751 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe

Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m.-noon

Alamogordo Police Department, 700 Virginia Ave., Alamogordo

Fire Station No. 2, 309 North 7th St., Artesia

Thursday, June 20, 9-11 a.m.

Fire Station No. 14, 9810 Eucariz SW, Albuquerque

Wednesday, June 26, 10 a.m.-noon

Sandia National Laboratories, Hardin Field — Kirtland Air Force Base

Friday, June 28, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

Kohl’s, 4401 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe

Saturday, June 29, 10 a.m.-noon

Pueblo of Jemez Injury Prevention, 4535 HWY 4, Jemez Pueblo

Miner’s Colfax Medical Center, 1235 S. 2nd, Raton, Old K-Mart parking lot

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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