Bill would remove Social Security numbers from drivers' licenses

Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- A bill that would take Social Security numbers off drivers' licenses had its first hearing Thursday.

House Bill 110 would require only that Social Security numbers go on a driver's license application. The numbers would not appear on the face of the license itself.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, said the bill will help prevent identity theft.

''Your driver's license is shown to a lot of people during your lifetime and it's just a matter of privacy,'' said Rynnieva Moss, an aide to Coghill.

Coghill told the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday that not only is he concerned about identify theft, he also objects to the growing use of Social Security numbers for identification. The numbers should be used simply to administer the federal retirement benefits program, he said.

Chuck Hosack, deputy director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, said drivers can ask not to have their Social Security number on the license now.

But Rep. Jeannette James, R-North Pole, said she doubts many people know they have that option. She supports the bill.

''I believe we're making a statement here that the government of Alaska doesn't have a right to use the Social Security number for this purpose,'' James said.

A couple of committee members had concerns about the bill.

Rep. Joe Hayes, D-Fairbanks, said he wanted to preserve the option for people to keep their Social Security number on their license if they want to.

Coghill said he thought the bill allowed that because it says the division ''may not'' put the numbers on licenses, instead of ''shall not.''

But Hosack said that language does prohibit DMV from putting Social Security numbers on licenses.

Rep. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, wanted assurance from law enforcement agencies that the change wouldn't hamper their work.

Hosack said he doesn't think it would pose a problem for law enforcement officers because they can access Division of Motor Vehicles records, including Social Security numbers, 24 hours a day by computer.

Stevens said he wanted to hear that from public safety officials themselves. Action on the bill was postponed until Tuesday.

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