- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2006

Surrounded by other men gathered on a corner in Arlington to find work, a day-laborer reaches into his battered wallet and presents what he once considered his key to legal driving.

It is the size of a standard ID, bearing a picture of the 47-year-old painter as well as his date of birth, address and eye color.

He paid $200 for the identification from a vendor, who assured the undocumented Honduran that he could use the card to drive in Virginia.

But federal and state transportation officials say these bogus international driver’s licenses are worthless in the United States and a knockoff of the legitimate licenses used by Americans who travel abroad.

A new Virginia law takes aim at the people who peddle the phony licenses.

The law makes it a misdemeanor to sell, give, or distribute any document purporting to be a driver’s license.

Violations would be punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The measure, which goes into effect July 1, strengthens existing restrictions on producing fake licenses.

Delegate Albert Eisenberg, the Arlington Democrat who sponsored the legislation, said bogus licenses offer false hope.

“They’re paying for worthless paper, and then they get arrested on top of that,” be said.

Utah has a special driver’s license for illegal aliens, while Tennessee is reviewing a similar program because of problems authenticating documents used to prove state residency.

In all but nine of the remaining states, applicants for an operator’s license must prove they’re here lawfully. Maryland is among those states that do not require that proof.

The bogus license are similar to the international driver’s licenses that cost about $10. They are used to supplement a legitimate driver’s license when Americans drive while abroad.

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