- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Maryland driver’s licenses issued to illegal aliens again will be an issue for state legislators because of a Thanksgiving night car crash that killed a Marine who had just returned from battlefield duty in Iraq.

Delegate Patrick L. McDonough, Baltimore Republican, says he will introduce legislation in the General Assembly for a fifth time to keep illegals from obtaining driver’s licenses in Maryland.

Cpl. Brian Mathews, 21, of Columbia, and Jennifer Bower, 24, of Montgomery Village, were killed when their car, which was stopped at a light, was hit on Route 175 at Route 108 in Howard County.

Investigators say the driver of the car that struck them was Eduardo Raul Morales-Soriano, 25, an illegal alien from Mexico who had a blood alcohol level of .32 percent, four times Maryland’s legal limit. Mr. Morales-Soriano, a landscaper from Laurel, was being held on $830,000 bail. He is charged with drunken driving, two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of manslaughter while intoxicated. Mr. Morales-Soriano also had a legal driver’s license from North Carolina, which eased the process for a Maryland license.

Mr. McDonough said he will introduce three bills to stiffen licensing requirements when lawmakers return to Annapolis next month.

Mr. Morales-Soriano was arrested in February after a minor accident in a Columbia parking lot. He refused to take a Breathalyzer test, police said, which typically results in a loss of license for 120 days. Charges against Mr. Morales-Soriano were dropped because of “weak evidence” and a police officer’s error at the scene, authorities said. Mr. Morales-Soriano’s license was returned.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration requires driver’s license applicants to apply in person and provide documents that include the applicant’s name, age and proof of Maryland residency. All but seven other states have stiffer requirements.

Mr. McDonough said such lenient standards have attracted illegal aliens, who often use the Maryland addresses of relatives.

“Now, they are all coming to Maryland,” he said.

The MVA reported in May that the number of illegal aliens applying for licenses had nearly doubled in three months.

Mr. McDonough’s legislation would require legal residency in the country, an established address in Maryland and the ability to speak English.

Delegate Jane E. Lawton, Montgomery County Democrat, opposes the measures. She said the state should not be involved in immigration issues.

“I think driver’s licenses are to show that you can drive,” she said. “It’s up to the federal government to step up to the plate and decide if foreigners should be denied licenses.”

Mrs. Lawton also said that careless drivers are not necessarily illegal aliens.

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