New law will require sex offenders to carry special license - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New law will require sex offenders to carry special license

The state of Tennessee will require convicted sex offenders to carry a special driver's license starting September 1, 2008.

The license, which will identify the carrier as a sex offender, is designed to alert police to potential trouble.

When officers stop people or pull them over and ask for identification, they call the information in to dispatch and are told only whether or not the person in question has an outstanding warrant. Lawmakers believe that this special driver's license will alert police when a sex offender violates the law, for example, when they are loitering in a park or hanging around a school. If police pull over a sex ofeender for any reason, the special license will let them know to look for things they normally wouldn't during a routine traffic stop.

Last December, Nashville police pulled over a registered sex offender who had several young boys whom he had lured from a sleepover in his vehicle. This incident troubled state representative Debra Maggart, who backed the bill requiring the special license.

The Department of Safety has yet to design the new driver's license, but Maggart says it will look like any other Tennessee driver's license -- only law enforcement officers will be able to see the sex offender notification. If, for example, a carrier of the license were to stop by a local drug store and the clerk needed to see identification for some reason, they would be unaware the customer was a sex offender. Only police would be privy to that information.

"This helps them do their job and helps protect our children in our state," said Maggart.

Under the new law, sex offenders who don't qualify for a Tennessee driver's license will be required to get a state identification card with a special sex offender marking.

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