Libertarian gets ticketed on purpose to make argument in court

Adrian Wyllie, second from right, the head of the Libertarian Party of Florida, leaves the Pinellas County Courthouse on Wednesday surrounded by supporters. His hearing was postponed.

LARA CERRI | Times

Adrian Wyllie, second from right, the head of the Libertarian Party of Florida, leaves the Pinellas County Courthouse on Wednesday surrounded by supporters. His hearing was postponed.

LARGO — Adrian Wyllie was probably the only person in traffic court on Wednesday who actually wanted to be there.

He wanted his day in court so badly that he actually drove around Pinellas County this summer, calling various police agencies and practically begging them to give him a ticket for driving without a license.

Finally a Pinellas sheriff's deputy ticketed him. And this gave him what he really wanted — a chance to come to court Wednesday on a crusade against a law he believes is unconstitutional.

It's the federal "Real ID" law that require a lot of documentation from Floridians getting drivers' licenses and identification cards.

After preparing his arguments like a Thurgood Marshall of traffic tickets, Wyllie felt a bit of a letdown when Traffic Magistrate Julee Milham decided to reschedule the hearing.

But Wyllie, 41, a Palm Harbor resident who is chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida, said he was pleased she seemed to take his quest seriously. She told him "this is huge. This is a big deal. You want it to be fully and fairly vetted."

The law requires people to come up with documentation that can include birth certificates, Social Security cards and more obscure papers such as old divorce files when getting drivers' licenses.

It's more than an inconvenience, says Wyllie.

He says these requirements are so wide and invasive that they violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures" of citizens.

"The biggest problem is that you not only have to present the documentation, but it's scanned into a national database," Wyllie said. "Can you imagine what an identity theft target this would be?"

He says the law also could lead law enforcement agencies to use this database to keep track of people through facial recognition software. Wyllie, who is not a lawyer but works as an information technology consultant, believes that's also unconstitutional.

Congress passed the "Real ID" law in 2005, partly in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and concerns that drivers' licenses had become too easy to get. Several of the 9/11 terrorists got drivers' licenses in Florida in their effort to establish U.S. identities.

The state began requiring the new documentation in January 2010. Wyllie waited until his license expired in May of this year, then refused to renew it because he said it would have required him to give up his Fourth Amendment rights.

State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-St. Petersburg, has filed a bill to remove some of the Real ID provisions. He says it's not necessarily a constitutional problem. But he said it doesn't make sense to force an 80-year-old woman to search for her birth certificate from a different state if she already has been a licensed Florida driver for 30 years.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232.

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For information from the state on the documentation that is required for getting or renewing a driver's license, go to www.gathergoget.com or www.gorenew.com.

Libertarian gets ticketed on purpose to make argument in court 09/07/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 11:53pm]

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