By Dariell Rhodes
Being a newly arrived, out-of-state student at Hutchinson Community College is harder than you might think. Obtaining a driver’s license is even harder.
To get a driver’s license, you must have an official copy of your birth certificate, passport, or certificate of naturalization, citizenship, or Kansas residency — and a valid Social Security number.
This is not saying all out-of-state residents need or want to get a Kansas driver’s license, but according to the law, if you are operating a vehicle and you get in some kind of traffic stop, there is a stronger chance of your going to jail than getting a traffic ticket, because you are considered a “flight risk.”
This means if you get a traffic ticket with a court date recorded on it, at any time between the time when the officer gave you the ticket and the court date, authorities are worried that you could decide to leave Hutchinson without paying the court costs, fines or the money to the bail bond company that you may owe for jumping bail.
Of course, if you leave any state without paying court-ordered fines or costs, two things are likely to happen. One, there’s a warrant issued for your arrest. Two, you can’t get far with an outstanding warrant issued with your name on it.
Most employers do background checks on new applicants — and that check will quickly reveal whether you have any warrants.
The same applies for employers; they can ask for NCIC records checks on prospective employees and quickly get a “hit” if there are warrants.
So you stick around and try to work things out.
But what if you have a driver’s license, but have lost it, due to a theft, or because you simply misplaced your wallet or purse?
In Hutchinson, it is difficult to start fresh and obtain a new driver’s license.
The process of getting the official copy of your birth certificate is the worst. You must go through many phone calls and strain your memory to come up with the necessary sources and contacts you will need.
If you have the misfortune to be sitting in jail, everything is really a mess.
You can’t make out-of-state phone calls from a county jail, so you can’t call anyone back home.
Now you have to get in touch with your family through someone else, leaving you to try to remember the cell phone numbers of people that you have just met.
In general, the best way is to plan ahead and have your in-state document applications filled out, so you can get a license and other papers soon after you arrive here.