Fla. Court Rejects Muslim’s Veiled Driver’s License Photo

A Florida state appeals court has upheld the suspension of a Muslim woman’s driver’s license because she refused to have her picture taken without her veil.

Although Florida law requires drivers’ licenses to bear a full face photograph, when Sultaana Freeman of Winter Park obtained her license in early 2001, she was photographed in her veil and issued a license. Ten months after the license was issued, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles ordered Freeman to submit an unveiled photo for her driver’s license or lose driving privileges.

Backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Freeman sued the Department maintaining its actions had violated her constitutional rights, including her religious liberty rights as protected under the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Upholding a lower court, a three-judge panel of Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal concluded that Freeman had failed to prove that the state law regarding driver’s licenses substantially burdened her free exercise of religion.

The ACLU plans to appeals the Freeman v. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.