Motorists cited for criminal traffic violations in Phoenix will have to give their thumbprint to Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies or go to jail, says the Arizona Republic. “This will be mandatory. No exceptions,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. “If they don’t want to give the print, they’re going directly to jail. Period.” The new policy toughens a pilot program in which motorists pulled over for routine traffic stops were asked to provide a thumbprint voluntarily. The goal was to catch people who took the wheel with stolen or phony driver’s licenses. Arizona is the nation’s worst state for identity theft.
Arpaio said about 67 percent of motorists declined to give their thumbprints. Arpaio cannot require people to provide a fingerprint if they are cited for civil traffic violations, but he said he can if the citation is criminal, including reckless driving, traveling more than 20 mph above the posted speed limit) and driving under the influence. “We still have a major constitutional privacy issue here,” said Dawn Wyland of the Arizona Civil Liberties Union. In nearby jurisdictions, motorists cited for criminal traffic violations are not routinely arrested and fingerprinted.