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Federal Court Upholds Oklahoma 'Sex Offender' Label On Driver’s License Law

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

A big decision was made today on an Oklahoma law that requires aggravated sex offenders have a special label on their driver's license.  A federal appeals court says the law is constitutional.

Ray Carney was convicted of sexually abusing a child back in 2010. He's scheduled to get out of prison in January.  He sued the state arguing that having to get a special driver's license with sex offender in red on the front would humiliate him when cashing a check, picking up a prescription or boarding a plane. And that was cruel and unusual punishment.

The judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously disagreed.

“In this case," said Michael Velchik, the Assistant Solicitor General for the Oklahoma Attorney General's office, "everyone agreed that was a civil regulation, not a punishment, and therefore, it was upheld.” 

Michael Velchik argued the case in front of the 10th circuit in which he told judges of Michael Slatton a sex offender who showed his driver's license with the sex offender label to a convenience store clerk. The clerk noticed Slatton was also buying kids items and acting strangely so he called police. It wasn't until later the clerk learned of an Amber Alert for a little girl who had been kidnapped from a playground.

“This regulation works,” said Velchik. "It already saved the life of an 8-year-old girl."

In court papers, Velchik says Carney and his attorneys also tried to liken sex offenders to minorities like racial minorities, women and gay and lesbian couples who have received discriminatory treatment from the law in the past.

“These arguments are absurd,” said Velchik. "The court correctly rejected these arguments, the opinion was unanimous for that reason."

Carney and his attorneys could appeal the decision again to a higher court. Carney's attorney today told me he couldn't comment on the decision.

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