Commercial Appeal – Bill puts brakes on ‘international driver’s license’ sham in Tennessee

From the article:

A bill to ban the sale of sham documents known as “international driver’s licenses” awaits the signature of Gov. Phil Bredesen to become law.

The state Senate approved the bill 31-0 on March 15 and the House approved it 97-0 on May 5. Passage was final Monday when the Senate concurred with slight wording changes the House made.

“I think everyone on both sides of the aisle realized that this is the right thing to do to protect people from being taken advantage of,” said State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, who sponsored the bill after reading news coverage of the issue last year in The Commercial Appeal.

Republicans, Democrats and advocacy groups for immigrants all supported the ban of the cards and booklets, which storefront operations sell to Hispanic newcomers.

The documents are worthless, but some advertisements in Spanish-language media throughout the region have claimed that they give immigrants the right to drive.

Other ads stop short of making that claim, and state that the documents are translations of driver’s licenses from the person’s home country.

But the bill’s House sponsor, Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, said only two agencies in the United States are authorized to issue international driving permits: AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance.

Richardson said she’s happy to see the bill pass.

“It’s good for people who are being preyed upon by people who don’t have their best interest at heart,” she said.

The sham documents are especially appealing to illegal immigrants, who can’t obtain legal driver’s licenses in Tennessee.

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