Puerto Rico-born US citizen wins lawsuit against Georgia allowing him to get driver's license

Puerto Rico-born US citizen wins lawsuit against Georgia allowing him to get driver's license
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A Puerto Rico-born U.S. citizen has won a lawsuit filed against Georgia, allowing him to get a driver’s license in the state.

Kenneth Cabán Gonzalez received his Georgia driver’s license two and a half years after first attempt, which ended with officials accusing him of submitting fraudulent documents, NBC News reported.

Georgia’s Department of Driver Services (DDS) agreed in a settlement to the federal lawsuit to give Cabán Gonzalez $100,000 and adjust its policies for U.S. territory-born citizens to obtain driver’s licenses, The Atlanta Constitution Journal reported.

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Now, these citizens will no longer have to take written, driving or cultural tests to transfer their licenses. 

“I am forever thankful to my family for supporting me and helping me get to and from work while I was waiting for a decision in this case,” Cabán Gonzalez said, according to a release from LatinoJustice PRLDEF, which filed the suit with the Southern Center for Human Rights. 

In October 2017, Cabán Gonzalez was arrested and charged with fraud and forgery felonies while his identification documents were withheld. The charges were later dropped after his Puerto Rican birth certificate was deemed authentic, according to the newspaper. 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations determined that DDS “went to unusual lengths to combat fraud, compared with other states,” according to NBC News. 

The department previously had a “Puerto Rico interview guide” for Puerto Rican citizens attempting to get a license. These “quizzes,” which featured questions to identify what Puerto Ricans call an orange and the nonexistent beach in an inland city, will now be eliminated, NBC News reported. Cabán Gonzalez was not subject to the quiz.

Kira Romero-Craft, the managing attorney of LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s southeast office, said recent economic and environmental struggles in Puerto Rico have pushed citizens to move to the mainland.

“Driving is a vital component of life in Georgia and as a result of our client’s bravery in seeking equal treatment for himself and fellow Puerto Ricans residing in Georgia, we have been able to take a significant step in equalizing the experience of Puerto Ricans to that of their fellow mainland-born, U.S. citizens,” she said, according to the press release.

DDS Commissioner Spencer Moore said in a statement that the department’s “top priority” is to give “efficient customer service while following all Georgia and federal rules and requirements.”

“We welcome instances like this where opportunities for improvement can be made after additional assessment of existing law,” he said.