General Question

bookish1's avatar

Can a government worker demand only one form of I.D.? (U.S. law, details inside.)

Asked by bookish1 (13062 points ) November 30th, 2012

Is it legal for a county or state worker in a government office (say, the county courthouse or sheriff’s office) to refuse out-of-state identification AND federal identification (passport)?

I was refused a service that this office provides, because I do not have an in-state driver’s license or ID card. I offered an out of state license, and also my passport.

Am I misunderstanding federalism or something? Was that woman just getting off on being withholding?

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25 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Is the service only available to residents of that state? Seems to me a passport is valid ID period in the United States of America. I’ve never heard of a driver’s license not being accepted by another state, except for a library card, or somethng that requires a local address.

bookish1's avatar

@JLeslie, no, it is a common service… Fingerprinting as part of a background check. Which I need for more paperwork, to allow me to regularize my freaking status as a resident of this state! Ugh. And I’m paying for it, too, not asking them to do it out of the goodness of their hearts…

Any idea what my recourse is? This woman surely works there 9–5 every day and she’s going to remember me because I’m the funny looking tr**** who wanted to get fingerprinted.

CWOTUS's avatar

Ask politely (I know you’d be polite in any case) to see the woman’s supervisor, and ask (if you’re still refused) the basis of the refusal.

Assuming current and valid passport and driver’s license, even from another state, I can’t imagine that those aren’t enough to prove identity. Alternatively, it may not be difficult to obtain a driver’s license in the current state, since all you should have to do (all I’ve ever had to do, anyway, and I’ve had licenses in nearly a dozen states, I think), is pass the written test and hand over the current and valid license from the previous state. It’s an annoyance, to be sure, but at least it helps to establish identity and residence in the state.

bookish1's avatar

Thank you, @CWOTUS. I was just so nervous and fluthered, I mean flustered, that when she refused both ID’s, I just left. And then I was kicking myself afterward wondering what I could have done.

Part of why I never got a driver’s license in my current location is that I needed to change my legal name. I was trying to start the process of changing my name today :-/ I am really resistant to the idea that I should have to get a local driver’s license just so I can submit this confounded fingerprint request, so that I can change my name and then have to get a new driver’s license all over again. But of course the people in the Sheriff’s office don’t give a damn about that, they are just following The Procedure (or making it up as the fancy strikes them.)

JLeslie's avatar

Most likely she is just an idiot. That souds ridiculous to me. Someone said to her you must see a driver’s license and she thinks that is the only ID good enough, just following orders ya know.

There should be several places you can be fingerprinted if she is giving you a hard time and you think it will be difficult to get it done in that location. Some police stations will do it, places that are approved by INS/ICE, etc.

As an aside, you need to follow the rules of the state for how much time you have to get a drivers license. Most name changes take several weeks, so make sure you really have enough time to do the name change first.

JLeslie's avatar

I just saw your last post. It was a police station. It is very possible there are different people doing it at different times of day. I would call ahead, ask if a US passport is valid ID to be fingerprinted, if they say no, ask to speak to a supervisor, he will say yes I think. Hopefully.

jordym84's avatar

In most situations a passport should be more than enough. I had to get fingerprinted just yesterday for a background check for my new job and, prior to my appointment, they told me to bring my passport OR my driver’s license and social security card. I brought all three just in case, but the lady at the desk told me the passport was sufficient and that they actually prefer that to the alternative. I’m not sure if the rules are different for government offices as I’m no expert in the matter, but the most likely explanation is that the woman was bored and decided to go on a power trip and you just happened to be the unfortunate victim…

Is there anywhere else you could go to have this service done? If not, then call ahead before you go there again and ask them what kind of documentation they need and, hopefully, it won’t be the same woman who answers the phone so that once you get there, if she gives you a hard time and refuses your passport again, you’ll know that it’s because she’s being an idiot.

bookish1's avatar

@JLeslie, It was a Sheriff’s office, which is part of county government. Now I am wondering if I can get the same service done at a police station, which would be local and possibly less likely to be shitty to trans people by default.

@jordym84: Hey, thank you for your reply and congratulations on the new job! :) Would you mind telling me in what kind of place you got fingerprinted? Was it state, county, local, or a private company? And I did feel like I was the victim of a power trip. Some things really make you stick out like a sore thumb in the American South and I’ve got all the right things wrong with me!

bookish1's avatar

I checked, and the local police department does indeed offer fingerprinting services. All I need is two official fingerprint cards to proceed with my state and federal background checks. Is there any reason that fingerprint cards from the local PD would be less “official” than those provided by the county Sheriff’s office? Ugh, I hate this stuff.

jordym84's avatar

@bookish1 Thank you!! I’m really excited about this, it’s my dream job and it was a very long process, but I got a call back the day after my last interview – and the best part is that I was originally supposed to wait 2 weeks for an answer. But I digress. I had my fingerprints done at the company’s hiring/human resources building. It’s a huge company and they have a separate building just for hiring purposes and everything is done on-site. The people who work there are government agents who are experts in the field, but I’m pretty sure they work jointly for the government and the company.

You know, it’s really easy for people to find fault with others when they themselves are unhappy with their own lives. I’ve been noticing this a lot lately. I know this is WAY off-topic, but a lot of my friends are very judgmental of others (the way they look, dress, talk, live their lives, etc) and they themselves are very unhappy with their own lives, whereas I, on the other hand, never judge people, especially for things they can’t help (who they are, for instance) and the main difference between my friends and I is that I’m happy and secure with who I am and even though life isn’t always easy, I do make the most of everything that gets thrown my way. So don’t let that woman’s apparent idiocy get to you. She’s probably stuck in that job for the rest of her life servicing others while you are most likely on to great things :)

Tropical_Willie's avatar

My local Police:
Fingerprinting

Days: Tuesday and Thursday (No Appointment Needed)
Hours: 1–4 pm
Charge: $10
Cash and checks only. No credit/debit cards.
*Fingerprint only for employment or adoption. No fingerprinting for immigration or Alcohol Law Enforcement. license.

Also some places that do fingerprinting, it is only for residents. The background check is valid only for local residents. They can’t do a background if you are out of state. I have had background checks for liquor license and gaming permits. Both times I had to be a local resident.

bookish1's avatar

Thank you, @Tropical_Willie.

In practical terms, I am a resident. I have lived and worked here for 3 years, my bank accounts are here, and I have no other address. But I don’t have an in-state driver’s license. Does this make me a non-resident? I have a U.S. passport that lists my permanent address in this state.

I’m getting two levels of background checks done. One is federal, and one is in this state where I have lived for 3 years. I don’t recall seeing anything on the name-change documentation that requested a background check for every state I have lived in. Am I being unduly optimistic here?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I don’t know about your state, but they wanted to know where I lived and it covered a period of time. The fact you don’t have a local license might be a “Red Flag” on a local background check.

bookish1's avatar

Thank you good sir, I will keep that in mind. I really appreciate the help.

JLeslie's avatar

Umm, the law in your state is probably you are required to get a driver’s license within 3 months of moving there, might be 6. I don’t know what state you are in. Unless you were going to school and still officially a resident in the state you came from. But, that would mean you are not a resident of your current state. For instance I went to high school in MD, but went to college in MI. I had to pay out of state tuition the entire time, very expensive. I never had a MI driver’s license. Or, if you were not going to school then you might be a resident that has not complied with the law to get the proper driver’s license.

About the fingerprints. You might want to check with where you will be handing in the prints if there are specific places they accept them from. It might say in your name change forms.

wundayatta's avatar

Could the woman who refused to serve you have done it because she didn’t like the way you look or was disgusted by who she thought you were?

The passport should be sufficient. You probably only need a few months residency to be a citizen of the state, but you have to check state law for that. At a maximum, you might need a year’s residency in some states in order to qualify as a citizen and be able to run for political office or get state benefits. Just google your state’s residency requirements if you care.

You need not get a driver’s license. That makes no sense. I suspect that if the woman was not malicious, then she was an idiot. Usually jobs like hers are patronage jobs and the only requirement is that you know the right person. They often resent having to do actual work, since they feel entitled to be in a no-show job.

Go in and act like you know what you are doing. Even better, research it, and then go in. You could threaten to bring a lawyer. But what might be better is to go to your local legislator’s office, either the municipality legislator, or your state rep, and ask them for help. They usually have juice, and they live to help constituents. You might even get the fingerprinting done for free.

Third, you could actually hire a lawyer.

Fourth, talk to the local criminal folks and ask them to help you out by breaking that sheriff’s office idiot’s leg. Then let the replacement help you. All the while tutting about what happened to her predecessor. What a shame.

bookish1's avatar

@JLeslie : Oh, I’m definitely a resident of this state…I moved here to go to school, but I have been living here the whole time and it’s not like I’m moving “back home” when I’m done with school. My home is right here. I just need to regularize my status… Thanks also for advising me to look on the forms for what kind of prints they accept. This stuff drives me nuts because I am so horribly not practical. I am an abstract-random thinker, and proud of it! Haha.

@wundayatta, thank you very much for your response. Option four sure sounded tempting earlier. Man, was I mad. I definitely got the sense that she was being a dick to me for a number of reasons. She probably read me as some freaky queer although I was dressed pretty conservatively today (despite what impression I might give online, I’m actually not that much of a prancer IRL haha), but I also always stand out because I’m visibly not-white but not in a way that people can place. But there were also certainly class differences at play. I walked in and addressed her politely, and she just said “What do you want?”

Maybe she was both malicious, and an idiot. I’ll definitely research my options and rights and be more confident next time. Thanks again.

Kardamom's avatar

@bookish1 I think you are totally right that this woman was a complete douche-baguette!

You went in there all conservative and polite, but because you weren’t exactly what she thought you ought to be, she decided to give you shit.

I’m thinking that next time you should go in with a posse of super-flamboyant folks and you should be dressed like This and carrying a steaming container of fragrant curry! You need to assault all of her senses LOL.

Hopefully you’ll be able to get this mess worked out soon : )

Judi's avatar

In California there is a service called “livescan” that is a private intities that can do fingerprinting for teh state. Not sure if you have anything like that there but you might want to look into it.

Bellatrix's avatar

Not wanting to derail here but is it compulsory for all adults to have their fingerprints held on file in the US?

Judi's avatar

@Bellatrix , no. Just for some jobs where you are in a position of trust.

Bellatrix's avatar

Ahh okay. Thank you @Judi. I was quite surprised to think that. I’m not sure what jobs here would require fingerprinting. Perhaps the military or police force.

Judi's avatar

I had to get them for my Real Estate License and I think Child Care Workers and Teachers have to as well. It also probably depends on the state.

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