DMV to Require Fingerprinting for Car Dealers


A group of fingerprints on white paper. | Image by AnotherPerfectDay, Shutterstock

On June 30, the Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles voted to require all current and prospective Texas car dealers to submit fingerprint verification.

The measure was passed on Thursday by an 8-1 vote and will officially go into effect on September 1, 2022.

Already-existing dealers in the state of Texas will henceforth have to be fingerprinted as a condition of renewing their dealership licensees, while new dealers will have to submit fingerprints and pay an additional fee of $38.25 as part of their dealership licensing applications with the Texas DMV.

The DMV made this decision in the wake of revelations that criminals in Texas had for some time been applying for car dealership licenses in the state using fake identities. Upon doing this, the criminals could then enter fake names and addresses into the state’s car registration system, procure fake and illegal temporary tags and license plate numbers for vehicles and then sell those fake tags and plates on the black market. It is believed that the market for paper plates can be as much as $200 million.

With fake tags in place, cars could become what police refer to as “ghost cars.” Because such cars are not tied to any authentic information in the vehicle registration database, they cannot be tracked effectively by authorities. Criminals can then use such cars to better evade police while committing crimes.

In one recent case where this became an issue, a man had shot up a hair salon in Dallas’ Koreatown neighborhood back in May, wounding three Asian women, in what police believe may have been a racially motivated hate crime. Though police were able to catch the perpetrator in that case, the fact that his car had fake registration information made their work much more difficult than it otherwise would have been.

The Texas DMV had been especially moved to act on this issue after local news stations like Dallas-Fort Worth’s KXAS-TV (NBC 5) and Austin’s KXAN aired investigative reports exposing the criminal license plate fraud industry in the state.

Both networks pointed out that state authorities have long been aware of the problem and have promised to crack down on it, but with no success. A serious issue that made this kind of criminal activity possible has been the extremely lax background check standards for Texas car dealers.

In particular, the exposés revealed that the DMV did not fingerprint those who applied for car dealer licenses and that DMV officials did not meet in person with those who had asked to be licensed before granting their requests.

Stacy Gillman, a car dealer who owns 10 dealerships across four different Texas cities, including Houston, was the only person on the board who voted against the fingerprinting measure. She explained that she voted no because the measure “will not really solve the problem.”

In February, a now-former head of the Texas DMV even resigned over controversy surrounding this issue.

Sgt. Jose Escribano of the Travis County Constable’s Office, who has long advocated that the DMV address this problem, commented on the new fingerprinting measure, saying, “The measure doesn’t go far enough, but it’s a start. We’re still chasing ghosts.”

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Keepin it real!
Keepin it real!
7 months ago

It’s about time!