The Texas Department of Public Safety quietly and discreetly enacted a new policy requiring any person applying for a Texas driver’s license or needing to obtain a renewal to provide all ten fingerprints. Previously DPS only required the fingerprint of a thumb or a person’s index finger should the thumbprint not available. According to the Dallas Morning News, this new policy took effect at the first of the year with no public announcement from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
According to the Department of Public Safety this new policy will greatly reduce the amount of fraud and identity theft Texas experience. Officials also believe the change will deter terrorists and other criminals alike from applying for a Texas driver’s license. DPS spokesperson went on to state, “Making sure that people are who they say they are in the process of issuing government identification is a critical safeguard to protect the public against a wide array of criminal threats.”
While the new 10 fingerprint policy quietly went into effect, Texas express differing opinions on this change. Like any public policy, opinions are across the board with those who do not support the change while others embrace it. Those who support the fingerprint policy change believe this extra step increases the likelihood of catching criminals, those with warrants for their arrest and unsolved cases. Those who disagree with this new fingerprint policy believe this is another government tactic to invade the rights and privacy of Texans.
Regardless of whether you support the 10 fingerprint policy change, the fact is DPS is enforcing the policy and state the only way out of the policy is by not renewing or applying for a Texas driver’s license. Initially the DPS spokesperson stated the fingerprints collected would not be run against a federal database, however this message soon changed claiming capture of several individuals wanted for crimes in Texas and in other states.
Department officials are confident the 10 print fingerprint policy change is authorized under existing Texas law as the current statutes state the department can establish an individual’s identity though the collection of an applicant’s thumbprint or fingerprints. Current law does not detail the number of fingerprints to be collected.
While Texans agree and disagree with the new 10-print fingerprint policy, next time you renew your Texas driver’s license, be prepared to stand in line and wait to be fingerprinted.