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Name Change Triggers Fraud Suspension

Out of State Issues

Most brides take their husband’s names. However, increasingly, some men are taking their new wives’ names. This recently resulted in a one year suspension for license fraud. Florida and national news outlets have recently reported that Lazaro Sopena took his new wife’s last name shortly after they got married. Using his marriage license, he obtained a new social security card, passport, and credit cards.  He used these legitimately obtained documents to obtain a new Florida Driver’s License which the DMV willingly issued in his new name. Basically, he followed the same procedures that a woman would follow to take her husband’s last name. However, it did not work out very well in this man’s case.

Shortly after changing his name, he received a letter from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles indicating that his right to operate would be suspended for one year for license fraud. He tried obtaining a hardship license, which the Florida DMV allows drunk driving but not in license fraud cases. He had difficulty working as a real estate broker, as he was not able to drive clients to view homes for sale.

Eventually, after suffering with a suspended license, Mr. Sopena, who changed his last name to Dinh, hired a lawyer and appealed the 1 year license fraud suspension. The Florida DMV reconsidered its position and it vacated the license fraud suspension when Mr. Dinh provided legal documentation which showed that he followed all of the proper procedures for changing his name.

This situation would not have occurred in Massachusetts because MassDOT has procedures in place which allow a husband to take his wife’s name. Apparently, only Massachusetts and eight other states, allow a man to change his surname to his wife’s name on his driver’s license.

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