Nevada justices reject immigrant’s driver’s license request

CARSON CITY — The state Supreme Court has denied granting a Nevada driver’s license to a man who might have been better off waiting for the new state driver’s authorization cards to go into effect in January.

A panel of the high court, in a unanimous 3-0 decision issued last week, refused Laszlo Schoka’s petition that the Department of Motor Vehicles be ordered to grant him a driver’s license.

Schoka, whose last known address was the Washoe County Detention Center, had asked the DMV to grant him a license on the basis of state law, not on his immigration status. Records show he was arrested in January 2011 for trying to renter the United States illegally.

Shortly after that, he filed a hand-written request to the Supreme Court seeking a writ to force the DMV to grant him a driver’s license. At the time, Schoka was awaiting deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He had no attorney and was granted the right to file his request without paying court fees.

In the documents he filed in the case, Schoka said he was denied a license because he was an immigrant.

“The state of Nevada could license to drive all immigrants, based on state laws alone, enhancing commerce as well as promoting the public safety,” he wrote. “This beautiful and vast state, with few longtime residents, could benefit and prosper by the influx of immigrants, dare to be unique and accommodate us immigrants for the benefit of all and the future of this state.”

Ironically less than a month ago, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed into law a bill that creates driver’s authorization cards for immigrants who are in the country illegally. The card allows them to drive in Nevada legally. About 60,000 people are expected to acquire the card in 2014.

Supporters said the driving cards would not only make roads safer but also improve the economy since these drivers likely would purchase cars, visit stores and buy more goods.

Since Schoka did not have a lawyer, it is unknown if he still is in Nevada. He is no longer a jail inmate in Washoe County.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.

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