States Call Implementing Federal “Real ID” Law A Nightmare


State motor vehicle officials say an anti-terrorism law creating a national standard for all driver’s licenses by 2008 cannot be implemented by the deadline, the Associated Press reports. “It is just flat out impossible and unrealistic to meet the prescriptive provisions of this law by 2008,” Betty Serian of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation told the AP. A record-sharing provision of the “Real ID” law was described by an Illinois official as “a nightmare for all states.”

The law was motivated by the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, whose perpetrators had legitimate driver’s licenses. The statute aims to unify disparate licensing rules and make it harder to obtain a card fraudulently. “If you begin to look at the full ramifications of this, we are talking about billions and billions of dollars. Congress simply passed an unfunded mandate,” said Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union. One example: The law demands that states mine multiple databases to check the accuracy of documents submitted by license applicants. States questioned how that will work, especially with confirming birth certificates. Iowa said it didn’t think the states would be able to make the required vital-records upgrades within three years. Also, some states’ ancient computing systems will have to be overhauled in order to link to other networks.


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