Former Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate and radio personality Adrian Wyllie announced today, February 26, 2015, that he will be in court Monday to face criminal charges of driving with no valid license in his four-year legal battle against the federal Real ID Act. States other than Florida offer residents the choice between a Real ID compliant drivers license and a non-Real ID compliant drivers license.
Collier County deputies arrested and jailed in September of last year after a traffic stop. He will stand trial at 10:30 am on Monday, before Judge Jim McGarity at the Collier County Courthouse, where he could be sentenced to up to a year in jail if convicted.
In a 2011 act of civil disobedience, Wyllie surrendered his driver’s license to protest Florida’s compliance with federal Real ID mandates, specifically the data mining and biometric cataloging of anyone applying for or renewing a Florida driver’s license. Since that time, he has been publicly vocal about his outlaw travel habits, occasionally baiting law enforcement to arrest him.
“It’s unfortunate that the best way to fix this unconstitutional law is to willfully disobey it, be arrested for it, and then challenge the law in court,” said Wyllie.
Clearwater attorney Luke Lirot, who is well known for high-profile First Amendment cases, will represent Wyllie. Their defense focuses on the legal precedent that a state cannot force a citizen to surrender a Constitutional right, such as the right to privacy, in order to gain a state privilege.
Wyllie says the Constitution was violated when Florida implemented Real ID, and the Department of Homeland Security’s mandates regarding personal document collection and biometric scanning of all Florida licensees in 2010. “At that point, your driver’s license became a de facto national ID card,” he said.
Currently, Florida collects documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, mortgage documents, bank statements, etc. at the time of license renewal. These documents are then scanned and uploaded into a national database, and retained for a minimum of seven years. The quagmire has caused many residents to not renew their drivers licenses because they either refuse under constitutional grounds or simply are not able to produce the documents required by the State of Florida.
Wyllie also points to the Real ID Act requirement that everyone applying for a driver’s license be subjected to a digital facial image capture that is uploaded to a national facial recognition database. In a series of investigative reports he released for the 1787 Radio Network documented how driver’s license images are being used by law enforcement agencies to automatically identify people via video surveillance cameras with facial recognition software. He claims as more cameras are deployed and interconnected, such as traffic cameras at intersections, the potential for government abuse of power grows.
“The facial recognition database they’ve built is now being used in Florida to identify and track us without our knowledge or consent,” said Wyllie. “If you have a gold star on your driver’s license, your biometric scan is already in the database.”
Wyllie hopes that a ruling in his favor would pressure the Florida Legislature to repeal Real ID compliance, and destroy the terabytes of personal and biometric data the state has collected.
He was previously arrested in Pinellas County on the same charges in May of 2014. In that trial, Pinellas Judge Cathy McKyton was sympathetic to his claim, but ruled that he had not proven that the statute was unconstitutional, and denied his motion to dismiss the case on constitutional grounds. Wyllie received a fine, but no jail sentence in that trial.
“Of course, I’m very concerned,” Wyllie said about the possibility of spending up to a year in jail if convicted, “But, I swore a solemn oath to defend the Constitution of the United States…It’s far better to lose a year of my freedom than to break my oath.”