Categorized | Government, News

County grants driver’s license to woman wearing headscarf after initially denying her


The County of Hawai‘i granted a REAL ID compliant driver’s license to a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf in the license photograph on April 18, 2018, after ascertaining the most recent Federal guidelines for identification.

The woman, identified as Laycie Tobosa, received a REAL ID compliant driver’s license from the Hilo office of the Hawai‘i County Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division (VRL).

Initially, the County followed the REAL ID requirements in place at the time regarding how an applicant’s photo should appear; the requirements at the time stated that “(t)he face from crown to the base of the chin, and from ear-to-ear, shall be clearly visible and free of shadows. Veils, scarves or headdresses must not obscure any facial features and not generate a shadow.”

The Federal Department of Homeland Security, which set forth the REAL ID laws, updated its own interpretation of the requirements regarding head coverings. The updated interpretation of the law was not immediately conveyed to the State or the County.

“As soon as the State and County became aware of the new interpretation of the law, Ms. Tobosa was immediately issued a full REAL ID compliant driver’s license on April 18, 2018,” said Naomi O’Dell, VRL Administrator. “Since that time, we have been consistently following that interpretation.”

Ms. Tobosa first applied for a renewed license on February 1, 2018, and was issued a temporary license as a matter of course, pending the processing of a permanent, plastic license.

“There was a lot of discussion with the applicant and the State Department of Transportation as we tried to clarify the rules and carry them out correctly,” O’Dell said.

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