An illegal immigrant from Mexico is challenging the constitutionality of the state’s driver’s-license law in a case the Georgia Supreme Court is set to hear Monday.
Fernando Castillo-Solis says the law — which requires motorists who have lived in Georgia for 30 days or more to get a state-issued license before driving — discriminates against illegal immigrants.
At issue is a part of the law that says motorists can’t be convicted of driving without a license if they can later present their licenses in court. The argument is: Since illegal immigrants are ineligible for Georgia licenses, they don’t have the same protection.
“Undocumented aliens are affected by the denial of an absolute defense,” Castillo-Solis’ attorney wrote in a court brief. “So, too, are those U.S. Citizens who reside in states other than Georgia at the time of trial.”
Castillo-Solis’ case stems from a 2010 traffic stop in Gwinnett County, where he was charged with driving without a license and failing to register his vehicle. Castillo-Solis, a Mexican citizen who has resided illegally in Georgia for more than 10 years, sought in a lower court to get the state driver’s-license law thrown out. The court rejected his request. With his trial still pending, Castillo-Solis is now appealing to the Supreme Court.
Gwinnett Solicitor General Rosanna Szabo rejected Castillo-Solis’ arguments in court papers, calling them unfounded and misleading. She said he never had a Georgia driver’s license and had no right to one. And she said people seeking to get driving-without-a-license charges dismissed must “present proof at trial that he or she actually was validly licensed to drive at the time of the traffic stop.”
The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Monday. Both sides will have up to 20 minutes to deliver their arguments. The court is expected to issue its decision by March 30.
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