(CBS) — Drivers beware: The federal government is cracking down on websites selling bogus driver’s licenses known as International Driver’s Licenses.
If you are hit by someone with an IDL, the nightmare may just begin because they often have no insurance, too.
CBS 2’s Dave Savini investigates these bogus licenses, which are sold nationwide and are popping up on the streets causing trouble for other motorists.
Don Helms says his car was hit by a driver, Fabiola Ramirez-Sanchez, who presented one of these bogus driver’s license.
“I don’t even know where she came from,” he says. “And then all of a sudden I felt a boom.”
He says Ramirez-Sanchez did not have any insurance and caused about $3,000 in damage to his car.
The 2 Investigators found it was the fifth time, since 2007, she had been arrested for not having a valid driver’s license.
When Savini confronted her, she said: “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office says she has never had a valid license to drive. Helms says he watched her show police the bogus International Driver’s License.
IDL’s are phony, says Steve Baker with the Federal Trade Commission, and they are popping up on Web sites all around the country.
“These are completely invalid,” Baker says. “They give absolutely nobody actually any legal protection. Mostly, we suspect the people that are buying these things know they are not real licenses … but maybe hope this will give them a little bit of an edge with the police if arrested.”
Fabiola Ramirez-Sanchez told CBS 2 she has an International Driver’s License, but refused to show it or explain why she was using it to drive.
Websites advertise their sale with simple steps to obtain them. Usually just a photo is needed, along with a credit card.
“We’ve taken law enforcement action against companies selling these things in the past,” Baker says. “We’ve also sent warning letters.”
Even though repeat offenders could face felonies, Ramirez-Sanchez has not ever been charged with one.
The FTC sent warning letters to 19 IDL companies. There is a legitimate International Driving Permit, but you need a license to get one.
More than 350,000 people have been convicted of driving, though they never had a license, according to current Illinois Secretary of State records.