Judge refuses to stop license revocations

ACLU claims Indiana BMV violates law matching driver’s licenses, IDs with Social Security numbers.

Por JOSEPH DITS • Tribune Staff Writer

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles reports that it has revoked the driver’s licenses and ID cards of about 32,455 people this year because their personal information didn’t match Social Security records.

On Wednesday a Marion Superior Court judge denied an injunction that would have temporarily stopped the BMV from revoking the credentials, a new process that began last year.

The injunction was sought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. It was paired with a class-action lawsuit in which a key plaintiff was South Bend attorney Lyn Leone.

Mary Lyn Leone is the name on her birth certificate and Social Security records, but it didn’t match Lyn Leone, the name she started using on records as an adult, including her driver’s license.

The ACLU’s lawsuit claimed that it’s against state law and the U.S. Constitution to take away licenses because of mismatches between BMV and Social Security records.

A hearing was held April 11 before Judge Kenneth Johnson in Indianapolis. In his 44-page ruling, Johnson wrote that the suit failed to show any harm or hardship to Leone by the BMV’s new screening process, which began last year.

Nor, Johnson wrote, did it show that the BMV’s new process prevented anyone like Leone from using whatever names they wanted for other official purposes.

Johnson also wrote that it’s important to guard against identity theft and fraud, which is part of the case the BMV made in court.

Indiana became the 47th state to check its records against those of Social Security. It ended up affecting a mix of lifelong citizens and illegal immigrants.

“Not that long ago, Indiana was a magnet for those who wanted to obtain a fraudulent drivers license,” BMV Commissioner Ron Stiver stated in a press release. “For instance, the BMV simply required a signed letter to make a name change. This, and other like practices, left

Hoosiers far too vulnerable to identity theft, financial crimes and other fraud. We set out to change that.”

The ACLU’s legal director, Ken Falk, said he’s filed to appeal the injunction’s denial. If the injunction is granted, he said, the lawsuit would have a better chance of changing the BMV policy when the suit goes to trial.

The BMV says it has offered appeal hearings to those who received notice that their licenses or IDs would be revoked. So far, the BMV reports that 96 hearings have been held.

The BMV says it will reinstate a license — at no charge — if the customer can successfully show their personal information matches that of Social Security records. To date, the BMV says 835 credentials have been reinstated.