Iowa DOT News Release

Iowa DOT confirms suspect in Mollie Tibbetts’ murder did not have an Iowa driver’s license or ID

Posted on: August 23, 2018

AMES, Iowa – Aug. 23, 2018 – The tragic death of Mollie Tibbetts has shocked and stunned Iowa and the nation. News reports have indicated the suspect in Tibbetts’ death presented a state-issued ID card to secure employment, which has generated questions about Iowa law and the Iowa Department of Transportation’s issuance practices. The following is information relevant to those questions:

The Iowa DOT has reviewed our records and confirmed that no Iowa driver's license or credential was issued to Cristhian Bahena Rivera, either under that name or any alternate name bearing his likeness and we have no license history for him.  The review included using our facial recognition system to compare his likeness to all images on record to assure he did not obtain an Iowa license or ID under a different or false name.  All requests for additional information about the source of the suspect’s credentials should be submitted to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Iowa law, consistent with the federal REAL ID Act, prohibits us from issuing any type of driver’s license or identification card to a person who is an undocumented immigrant.  We are authorized to issue a license or ID to anyone who is considered a temporary foreign national. A temporary foreign national is a person who is lawfully authorized to be present in the U.S., as determined by the United States Customs & Immigration Service and presents documents issued by USCIS that are valid and can be verified electronically through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program operated by the United States Department of Homeland Security.  An undocumented immigrant has no such lawful status and no corresponding documentation and is not eligible for an Iowa license or ID. 

Iowa DOT contributes to the E-verify program, through a program called RIDE (Records and Information from DMVs for E-Verify).  Under that program, an employer who is presented a driver’s license or ID issued by the state of Iowa as proof of identity and employment authorization may enter the credential information into the E-Verify system. We will return an answer indicating whether the information provided is valid or invalid.  However, our participation in the verification process is triggered or implicated only when a person possesses and presents and Iowa-issued credential.

We stand with the countless others who are saddened by this tragic event and are keeping the friends and family of Mollie Tibbetts in our hearts.


Contact: Mark Lowe at 515-318-8292 or

Iowa highway in the evening