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Driver's license requirements change

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By The Staff

 There was a time when passing written, eye and driving tests were all you needed to be a legal Florida driver. These days you have to have concrete proof of who you are.

As of Jan. 1, new requirements went into effect for anyone renewing or getting a new driver’s license, and it’s caused a few headaches for those issue the licenses.

“I’ve been chewed out and cussed at,” Linda Fugate, Levy County Tax Collector, told Williston Rotary Club members last week as she explained what’s needed to be a legal driver.

The state has established specific forms of proof to which all drivers must adhere, and that’s what’s causing the difficulties, Fugate said. You must bring proof of identity, proof of address and your Social Security number.

Applicants must have one of the following:

• certified U.S. birth certificate

• valid U.S. passport

• Certificate of Naturalization

• Consular proof of birth abroad

• Alien registration receipt card (green card, form 1-551)

Fugate said most people opt for their birth certificate as proof of identification, but many have been rejected because they are not bringing a certified copy.

Though it varies from state to state, certificate copies may  have raised seals, be printed on specialty paper or contain watermarks. Photocopies will not be accepted, nor will notarized copies of photocopies. Only certified birth certificates will get you through the process, Fugate said.

For women, if you are changing your name on your driver’s license, you must also produce an original or certified copy of the marriage license or court order showing the name change. Once again, uncertified copies are not valid and will not be accepted.

Additionally, applicants must show proof of their Social Security number.

Acceptable forms of identification include:

• Social Security card

• W-2 form

• Pay check showing the number

• Any 1099 form

The last documents needed, Fugate said, are proof of residency. You must bring two of the following:

• Deed, mortgage,  payment book or rental agreement

• Florida vehicle registration  or title

• Utility bill or hookup/work order

• Statement from the person you live with along with two address documents in that person’s name.

That means when applying for a driver’s license, everyone must bring four different documents.

Those documents are scanned and transmitted to the Department of Homeland Security, Fugate said.

“If they don’t like what they see,” she said, “they’re canceling driver’s licenses.”

Fugate said before the new requirements went into place, her staff in Williston, Chiefland and Bronson were issuing between 45-55 driver’s licenses each day. On Monday, March 1 only 14 were issued.

Drivers who are renewing licenses can avoid the new requirements by applying online. Drivers are allowed to renew one time via the computer. Driver’s licenses are valid for eight years.

 Carolyn Risner can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com