TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A German manager with Mercedes-Benz is free after being arrested for not having a driver's license with him under Alabama's new law targeting illegal immigrants, police said Friday.
Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson told The Associated Press an officer stopped a rental vehicle for not having a tag Wednesday night and asked the driver for his license. The man only had a German identification card, so he was arrested and taken to police headquarters, Anderson said.
The 46-year-old executive was charged with violating the immigration law for not having proper identification, but he was released after an associate retrieved his passport, visa and German driver's license from the hotel where he was staying, Anderson said.
It wasn't immediately known how long the man was in custody or the status of his court case.
The law -- parts of which were put on hold amid legal challenges -- requires that police check citizenship status during traffic stops and take anyone who doesn't have proper identification to a magistrate. Anderson said that's what was done, but someone in the same situation wouldn't have been arrested before the law took effect.
"If it were not for the immigration law, a person without a license in their possession wouldn't be arrested like this," he said. Previously, drivers who lacked licenses received a ticket and a court summons, according to Anderson.
Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald said the man is from Germany and was visiting Alabama on business. The company's first U.S. assembly plant is located just east of Tuscaloosa.
"This was an unfortunate situation, but the incident was resolved when our colleague ... was able to provide his driver's license and other documents to Tuscaloosa police," Jerald said.