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Ohio BMV Sued For Discriminating Against Teens With Undocumented Parents

Peter Dutton

Attorneys with the Dayton firm Advocates For Basic Legal Equality, or ABLE, are suing the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles for discrimination.

A new lawsuit alleges the state agency has unfairly denied United States citizens and legal-immigrant teenagers the right to their driver’s licenses or Ohio Identification cards.

The firm filed the class-action suit last Tuesday in federal court, asking the court to consider changes to the state's policy covering minor driver's license and state ID applications.

Current Bureau of Motor Vehicles policy requires a parent to cosign a young person’s driver’s license or state ID application.

ABLE staff attorney Emily Brown says the policy is unconstitutional and could violate the rights of around 3,000 16- and 17-year-old children across the state.

“There is no dispute that these kids have the same rights to a driver’s license that any other 16 year old would have,” Brown says. “The problem is, because Ohio law requires a parent to cosign for a minor, they’re being prevented from being able to get their licenses because their parents can’t be cosigners since their parents are undocumented.”

ABLE is representing a Cincinnati-based immigrant-advocacy group called the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center and four individual plaintiffs in the complaint.

The lawsuit asks the court to allow other adults to cosign a minor’s application when the minor’s parents are undocumented immigrants without legal status.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles says the agency does not comment on pending litigation.