Monday, March 26, 2012

"International Driver's License": Fake documents, very real threats to employers

Recently I was talking with someone who, like me, does human resources in the construction industry. They were asking questions that had arisen from a recent incident where an injured employee was taken to the hospital and presented a so-called "International Driver's License" as identification, wondering if they should allow that employee to continue operating a company vehicle. I did a little research to get to the bottom of this matter and learned that not only are these documents bogus, trusting those with such fake documents could expose employers to some major financial risks.

Someone who presents this kind of fake identification when being hired can present two major risks to employers: state and federal penalities for hiring an illegal alien, as well as considerable financial risks if they get behind the wheel of a company vehicle and get in a wreck. If a new hire cannot present a state-issued driver's license or ID card, employers should ask themselves how much of a risk they are willing to take to hire that individual before they proceed with bringing them onto their payroll.

These documents are manufactured and sold extensively in the state's Hispanic community, under the mistaken impression these documents will allow them to con an unsuspecting employer into thinking they are legal to work in the United States. As discussed recently, the state's Illegal Immigration Reform Act specifically states that a new hire is to be verified through E-Verify, which helps simpify the process here, as well as several other states which mandated the use of E-verify.

I talked with a state trooper I knew about the subject. He told me these are invalid licenses and if he stops someone with one of those, they will be cited, could be arrested and if no legitimately licensed driver was able to take over, the vehicle would be towed at the vehicle owner's expense (the company if it's a company car).

South Carolina law is very specific about the requirement that anyone residing in this state must obtain and drive only with a license issued by the State of South Carolina:
If you are a new resident, you may use a valid driver's license from your former state for up to 90 days. However, you must convert to a South Carolina driver's license before the end of the 90-day period.


This means that if your employee lives here and is a legal resident (foreign nationals with valid passports and visas can be legal residents without being U.S. citizens), they must have an ID or license issued by the state of South Carolina, period. If they don't, you should ask yourself why not.

Further, this story in the Orangeburg Times and Democrat reports these are NOT valid drivers licenses:

Police pulled his car over Tuesday morning for a routine traffic stop. He said he had left his driver's license at home. When asked, the Hispanic man confirmed it was an International Driving Document.

Police are warning residents that such licenses are part of a scam foisting a comparatively expensive document as a legitimate driver's license.

"Let there be no mistake, these documents aren't worth the paper they're written on for the purpose of driving in the state of South Carolina," Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Capt. Mike Adams said. "They're not valid anywhere in the United States for that matter."

Next, I called someone in the construction insurance business to see if insurers would pay in the event of an incident involving an employee who does not have a valid license. He told me that in the event of a collision with a driver who did not have a valid driver's license, they would not pay any claim. This would create some potential problems for the company as the employer would have to pay for all costs directly, or risk a lawsuit.

Should an accident result in a lawsuit by an injured party, it seems jurors would give a generous award to the plantiff (and their attorneys) to punish them for allowing unlicensed individuals to drive. Given the general public attitudes towards illegal aliens, if the driver was an illegal, they may give an even larger award as a punitive measure.

Big risks for employers willing to take chances. Employers should ask themselves if the prospective new hire is worth going to jail or losing their companies, because that's exactly what a bad hiring decision could mean.


Roger said...

The person who makes fake id is a fool,do not go against defense security act.

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