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xavierjd, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3400
Experience:  20+ yrs in criminal, landlord/tenant, family, & small claims
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Can I refuse to give my fingerprint to the California DMV for

Resolved Question:

Can I refuse to give my fingerprint to the California DMV for my Driver's license renewal. This new requirement just doesn't seem constitutional. It used to be that you had to commit a crime or be a government official before you had to submit a fingerprint, but now they're cataloguing regular law abiding citizens... It just doesn't sit well with me on a privacy level. Is this another stipulation of the Patriot Act taking more of our freedoms away?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  xavierjd replied 7 years ago.

Thanks for using


Are you renewing your regular license or a CDL?



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Just my regular California Driver's License. My wife renewed a few months ago and was required to give her fingerprint which she didn't approve of but she was told that it was mandatory. The renewal form I received states that I have to submit a vision test, photo as well as a thumbprint.

Thanks in advance
Expert:  xavierjd replied 7 years ago.

Thanks for the information.


The answer to your question is NO. You don't have to submit a thumb print......BUT, if you don't submit your print, you WON'T be allowed to renew your license.


The law provides that driving is a privilege. It is not a right. Therefore, a license may be issued and it may be taken away. Requirements may be placed on a person's ability to obtain and maintain a driver's license.


Not all states require a thumb print to renew/obtain a license. However, because a drivers license is a primary form of identification in California, the argument is that providing a thumb print guards against identity theft, fraud and helps prevent consumer related crime. However, unlike a road test, eye test, etc. a thumb print has nothing to do with your driving ability.


I understand your privacy concerns. Unlike other forms of identification, such as a driver's license number, a thumb print, cannot be changed in the event of a data breach, potentially resulting in lasting problems for victims.


However, again, because a drivers license is a privilege and not a right, the state can continue to require a thumb print.


I hope you find this information useful and that you PRESS THE GREEN ACCEPT BUTTON so that I can get credit for answering the question. Thank you.



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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Unfortunately in our day and age driving is a necessity and not a privilege, especially with California's inadequate transit system. You could make that equal claim about other modern technologies that have become a necessity to make a living in our society such as the internet, telephone, computers, etc. Should we submit our finger prints for the so called privilege of using those. After all they are not rights either but without them, we are at a serious advantage to compete in this economy. It's like saying a carpenter has the right to make a living as long as he uses a hammer but if he wants to use an electric tool than he must give up his privacy in order to us one because it's a privilege... Not a worthy argument in our day and age.

As for the reasoning that a thumb print is for our (the consumer) protection is just an old tactic to make the public swallow the pill when in fact it is much more likely to be used against us in the future like so many other similar laws that claim the same. Our past history is proof enough of such abuses. We, the american public never even had a choice on this matter and it's another blow to our freedom of privacy which is slowly being eroded buy an increasingly invasive corporate entity & government with the help of technology.

Will I refuse to renew my license on moral grounds and be financially punished? Do I really have a choice? You know the answer as well as I do. This is something worthy enough to be argued in a court of law by a civil right lawyer for it concerns all of us... I guess, it's good news for defense lawyers since they'll surely be defending cases where fingerprints from the DMV database have been used unethically and pejoratively .

Thank you for your research on this matter and detailed answer. I will credit you by accepting your answer.