California Foreign Service Officers would get driver's license extension under Wieckowski bill

Former U.S. ambassador supports SB 267 to grant extensions like those used by members of our armed forces

May 13, 2019

Sacramento – Foreign Service Officers who are residents of California but are serving abroad would have their driver’s licenses remain in effect for the duration of their time outside the state and 30 days after they return, under Senate Bill 267, authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont). The bill, which unanimously passed the Senate Thursday, grants the same type of extension to foreign service officers as for those serving in the armed forces.

“Foreign Service Officers serve our country abroad and commonly work in conjunction with our Armed Forces.  It makes sense to provide them with a similar extension until they are able to return to the state,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee.  “They serve in more than 270 embassies, consulates and other diplomatic missions providing assistance and protection for American citizens who are living or traveling around the world. Their tours can last two to three years per assignment, making it difficult to return to California to renew their driver’s license.”

Under existing law, a person serving in the Armed Forces may obtain an extension on her driver’s license while she is serving outside of California.  The driver’s license remains in full effect for the duration of the time she is out of state and she is provided 30 days from when she returns or is honorably discharged to renew the license.

“As someone privileged to have served as a U.S. Ambassador, I have seen first-hand the dedication and commitment of our career Foreign Service Officers who represent our nation around the world, far from home and often under difficult and even dangerous conditions,” said David Huebner, who was appointed by President Barack Obama and served as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa from 2009 to 2014.  “Senator Wieckowski’s bill provides important support to our public servants and advances American interests by removing an unnecessary burden on our officers who often need a valid driver’s license to perform their duties.”

Senator Wieckowski introduced SB 267 after being contacted by a constituent who is a Foreign Service Officer currently serving abroad. The officer described the necessity of maintaining a valid license while serving and the difficulties of keeping it up-to-date.

SB 267 now goes to the state Assembly for consideration.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes parts of Alameda and Santa Clara counties.