Called the Real ID Act, new rules handed down by the federal government will require anyone renewing a driver’s license – even if you’ve been driving for decades – to produce proof that you are who you say you are.
And the only acceptable documents will be a birth certificate or a passport.
This is supposed to help protect the U.S. from terrorists. The regulations were developed after the 9/11 Commission reported that 18 of the 19 hijackers had used forged driver’s licenses to board planes.
You probably haven’t heard of this new requirement, and that’s one reason why the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles – along departments in the rest of the 50 states – has received an extension for implementing it.
The rule was supposed to go into effect this May. The extension is until October 2011.
Why state’s aren’t ready and the public hasn’t been alerted by now is unclear, since this anti-terrorism act was enacted on May 11, 2005.
Connecticut received $3 million to upgrade technology to implement the new Real ID procedures. States will now be required to store digital images of IDs for up to 10 years and to link their driver’s license databases to one another.
One problem female drivers will face with this new law is that their name at birth and their married name often aren’t going to be the same.
Under the Real ID, however, if you aren’t able to produce the necessary proof, you can still be issued what’s called a “noncompliant” license. These licenses will be adequate for driving or cashing checks, but won’t be accepted as valid at airports or some federal agencies or to receive federal benefits.
There has been opposition to the Real ID Act across the country. At last count, 25 states have approved legislation or resolutions not to comply. This includes Arizona, where then-Governor Janet Napolitano – now Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security – signed a bill opting out of the program, according to a report in InfoWorld.com, “Obama will inherit a real mess on Real ID,” posted Dec. 22, 2008.
Others include Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Washington.
These states, however, still had to promise they will improve their licenses to make them more difficult to forge.
According to a report in USA Today (see related links) all of this is expected to cost states a total of $3.9 billion.
Existing driver’s licenses will continue to be accepted as federal identification until December 2014. If you are 50 or older on that date, you will have another three years before you will be required to have a Real ID card.
The Real ID Act also affects other areas considered to be of importance by the Office of Homeland Security. It also:
- changes visa limits for temporary workers, nurses, and Australian citizens.
- funds some reports and pilot projects related to border security.
- introduces rules covering “delivery bonds” (similar to bail bonds but for accused illegal aliens who have been released pending hearings.
- updates and tightens the laws on application for asylum, and for deportation of aliens for terrorist activity.
- waives laws that interfere with construction of physical barriers at the borders.
Posted Feb. 14, 2011
Chertoff unveils new rules for driver’s licenses, USA Today, Jan. 15, 2008
Enhanced Driver’s Licenses: What are They? (used to cross from Canada, Mexico, other ports of entry) Dept. of Homeland Security Web site http://www.dhs.gov/files/crossingborders/gc_1197575704846.shtm