The federal Real ID law has just about every state up in arms, says Governing magazine. Their beef is with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its proposed rules for closing security holes using the state licensing process. The DHS rules ask the states to take on an immensely difficult task – some say an impossible one – and to pay for the privilege of doing it. The proposed DHS regulations for a new or renewed license call for all drivers to go to a DMV office in person and show original identity documents. DMV employees will have to verify those documents – birth certificates, Social Security numbers, or other credentials. An analysis done jointly by associations of state legislators, governors, and motor vehicle administrators figure that REAL ID requirements will more than double the workload of motor vehicle offices. The National Governors Association figures states are likely to spend at least $11 billion of their own money over the next five years to get REAL ID up and running. Says Matthew Dunlap, Maine's secretary of state, “This is bigger than the space program.”
The first implementations are scheduled to go into effect in May 2008. States including Colorado and Virginia are preparing themselves for that deadline. States that opt in but aren't ready to meet the 2008 deadline can request an extension, as most states likely will. If states decide to opt out – as Montana and Washington have done – it could create major inconveniences for their residents, who would not be able to use their driver's licenses to board planes or enter secure federal facilities. An opt-out could also shatter federal plans for how REAL ID will work, says Governing.