MVD aims to protect victims

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Special driver’s license available to victims of abuse

By Carol A. Clark

Domestic violence and sexual assault victims can now apply for confidential driver’s licenses, identification cards and permits at all Motor Vehicle Division offices to protect themselves from their abusers.

Los Alamos Police Det. Shari Mills works with local victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She discussed the new program during an interview Monday.

“The thought of their whereabouts being made available to their abusers can be scary for these victims. Even obtaining protection orders can be difficult because victims are so concerned about protecting their addresses,” Mills said. “This is an excellent idea that will really help ease their minds.”  

Sgt. Fred Rascon agreed. “We understand how dangerous it is for victims during the time period when they are trying to re-establish their lives. This program is a good thing for them,”  Rascon said.                             

The Confidential Driver’s License Address Program is a tool that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can use to protect themselves from their abusers, Gov. Bill Richardson explained in a news release.

“The objective of the program is to prevent abusers from tracking their victims, to allow victims to feel safe and secure in their surroundings and to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives,”  he said.

The state of New Mexico has been a national leader in addressing the issue of domestic violence, First Lady Barbara Richardson said in the release.

“This MVD program provides an additional layer of protection for families in crisis from violence in their own lives,” she said.

The confidential driver’s license address program allows victims of domestic violence to use a substitute address, provided by the MVD, on their driver’s licenses, identification cards or permits.

Participants in the program can use the substitute address to conduct any official or private business, while ensuring that their abusers cannot track them.

MVD Director Michael Sandoval explained the goal is to ensure victims of domestic violence and sexual assault feel safe and don’t have to look over their shoulders when they enroll in the confidential driver’s license address program.

“With that in mind, we have implemented a series of strong procedures that are designed to protect victims and their whereabouts,” Sandoval said.

The first step to obtain the confidential license is to register at the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. The second step is to contact the MVD’s Confidential Address Program coordinator at 827-1013.