Production of Fake Oklahoma Drivers Licenses At All Time High

Tuesday, December 14th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

When stopped or questioned by police, an individual gives a fake name to the officer. This is not uncommon. What happens even more often is a person uses a fake driver's license to get into a bar underage or to run up huge bills in someone else's name. In this story, the News on Six looks at why it's so easy to get a fake I-D in Oklahoma and the steps being taken to prevent the production of fake I-D’s.

In just one month, police seized four hundred fake licenses from one Oklahoma bar. State officials say it's easier to get a fake I-D in Oklahoma than anywhere else and criminals all over the world know it. "We had rings broken in Nigeria, Africa and other nations that come to our state to get a fake I-D, said Tulsa police lieutenant Shayne Slovacek.

Police say the state is using 100-year-old technology. Polaroid film to be exact. Plus the fact that the person who gives the driver's test is at one location and the person who issues the license is at a tag agency. The switching around of pictures can go on between the two locations. "The drivers license is the number one documentation used for identity now," said state drivers license services spokesperson Lonnie Jarman. "People think it just shows you have the right to drive, but it's much more than that."

Some say the solution to prevent fake I-D's is a state-owned digital imaging system. A system that not only stores an image of your face and your signature on a computer, but also stores an image of your fingerprint. So, when a person walks into a tag agency with a birth certificate that reads Bob Smith, that individual can prove he really is Bob Smith with a touch of a button. "The main feature of digital imaging means we can protect individuals from identity theft and make it not so easy for kids to get into clubs," explained Jarman.

The state has 13,000 drivers licenses that get duplicated by criminals every year. Around five people a day call the state’s licensing division to report that someone is ruining their credit using a license made with the suspect’s photo and the victim's name and address. The division says the reason Oklahoma doesn't have digital imaging is due to the legislature cutting the system from the state budget. The state office is hopeful citizens will start a letter writing campaign to their legislators to get digital imaging budgeted for the year 2000. They say one major chain of stores in Oklahoma now refuses to accept Oklahoma driver's licenses as a form of I-D and other stores are threatening the same.