New Mexico

Man with no birth certificate had trouble renewing driver's license in New Mexico

85-year-old born in small Oklahoma town

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Imagine going through life with out a birth certificate, despite being born in the US?

That’s what a Las Cruces man has dealt with and he says it never stopped him from driving, until now.

85-year-old Robert Sawyers tells ABC-7 he was born at home in a small town in Oklahoma.  He says he never was issued a birth certificate, but when he enrolled in the navy, his mother signed off on an “age certificate” sealed by the state to prove his citizenship.

Sawyers says he's shown that document along with others to renew his license for as long as he can remember.

On the January 1, 2017, he was turned away.

“I’ve had Texas drivers licenses, New Mexico drivers licenses and Oklahoma drivers licenses and went to get mine renewed this year and I couldn't do it with out a birth certificate,” Sawyers said.

Sawyers and his wife Gloria believed the recent change was because of New Mexico’s new Real ID Act, which went into place as of November 14, 2016. The act puts New Mexico driver’s licenses in compliance with federal standards. In return, there are a few changes to what documentation is accepted to get a driver’s license.

Ben Cloutier with the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department says the documentation is actually quite similar, but the major difference is providing documents to establish proof of residency.

According to Cloutier, if you go to renew your license for the first time since the act went into place, you will have to essentially “start over” and provide all specific documentation again, just like you did the first time you ever got a license.

“What we’re doing is we’re scanning all those documents into our system so the next time they want to renew their license they can go ahead and do that,” Cloutier said. “It’s just this first time we have to follow those guidelines and make sure we get those federal requirements take care of.”

Sawyers says after a over a month with out a renewed license, someone at the Motor Vehicle Department sent a letter to Santa Fe, and he was told he could indeed get his license with the documentation he originally presented.

The taxation and revenue department wants all New Mexican’s to be aware of what documentation you must bring you need to  renew your ID.

Click here for a list of what documentation is required to obtain an official driver's license or identification in New Mexico.

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