Finger imaging bill passes senate, held for reconsideration

Wednesday, May 7th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Legislation that would require Oklahomans to have their finger scanned when they get a driver's licenses passed the state Senate Tuesday and is headed to the governor's desk.

If the bill becomes law, people getting new driver's licenses or an identification card from the Public Safety Department must have an image of their fingerprint made.

The bill would take effect July 1.

The finger scan will be converted into data that will be on file in the Public Safety Department and can be used to keep someone from using another's license, said Sen. Robert M. Kerr, D-Altus.

Supporters of the bill say finger imaging also will cut down on identity theft. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol worked 1,700 cases of identity theft last year. Troopers have said they have encountered immigrants with state driver's licenses that bear their photograph but identify them as someone else.

The bill passed 25-16, but was held on the Senate calendar on a motion by Sen. Dick Wilkerson to reconsider the vote at a later date. The bill has already passed the House.

Wilkerson, D-Atwood, said he was concerned about language in an amendment that limits federal and state access to the images without a court order.

Under the amendment by the House of Representatives only the Public Safety Department would have access to the finger prints.

Wilkerson, a former Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent, said he wants to consult with staff attorneys to ensure the amendment doesn't keep any other law officer from looking at a driver's license.

After the vote on the bill is reconsidered, it heads to the governor's desk for a signature.

Other states with finger-imaging systems include Colorado, Mississippi, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.