The Bush administration is easing its demand for tough national standards for driver’s licenses, after state officials said the “Real ID” plan is unworkable and too costly, reports the Washington Post. While Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff hailed an agreement with New York last week on more secure state identification cards for citizens as a sign that “the tide is moving more rapidly in favor of Real ID,” his department is preparing to extend deadlines for the second time in a year and ease or take over responsibility for new security measures.
Chertoff had announced that he would waive the original May 2008 deadline and set a new target of 2013 for getting all 245 million U.S. driver’s licenses to comply with a national standard. Now, DHS may extend the original deadline by a decade, to 2018 for drivers older than 40 or 50 to reduce the costs associated with a projected surge of customers at state motor vehicle departments. A homeland security official said he expected Real ID’s price tag to fall by “billions of dollars” as DHS eases demands that the new licenses be renewed every five years, that expensive, tamper-resistant materials be used to create the ID cards, and that each state develop its own verification systems. In 2005, Congress mandated Real ID to standardize information that must be included on licenses, including a digital photograph, a signature, and machine-readable features such as a bar code.