by Lauren McClure on May 22, 2013
Sample of the new REAL ID for Wisconsin
People throughout the country might see some big changes happening to their driver’s licenses and state IDs. As of February 2013, 19 states have demonstrated compliance with the REAL ID Act, a piece of legislature that imposes much stricter measures on how people can obtain a driver’s license, and sets more thorough standards as to what will be displayed on them. Called the new “national ID,” the REAL ID Act has gained some traction in light of recent events like the Boston Marathon bombings.
But what exactly is the REAL ID Act, and how will it affect drivers across the nation?
The History of REAL ID
After 9/11, the federal government began to look at ways to increase security surrounding state identification cards and driver’s licenses, in an attempt to prevent further terrorism and/or unlawful entry into and out of the country.
In 2005, the House of Representatives passed a bill into law called the REAL ID Act. This Act would set certain federal standards upon all driver’s licenses, which are currently regulated by each individual state. After being passed into law, the bill was tabled until 2007, when it was announced that the federal enforcement of the act would be postponed for a period of two years. However, many state governments were slow to support this act, feeling that it not only infringed upon states’ rights handed to them by the 10th Amendment, but also created unnecessary cost to taxpayers in order to implement the change. It wasn’t until this year that the federal government announced that all states would need to be in compliance with the REAL ID Act by the end of 2017.
How IDs Will Be Affected
The REAL ID Act sets forth new federally mandated requirements for all state driver’s licenses and ID cards. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set standards not entirely dissimilar from the requirements already in place for most states throughout the country. On each ID, the following information must be present:
- Full legal name
- Residential address
- Birth date
- Driver’s license/identification card number
- Digital front-facing photograph
Driver’s licenses and IDs must now also include a common barcode and security devices to prevent any tampering with or counterfeiting of the card, and must display a star in the upper right-hand corner, signifying that your identification has been approved by the TSA and your identity has been verified. There are also new requirements put in place to obtain an ID or license; all applicants must present the following documents during the application process:
- A photo ID, or non-photo ID that contains the applicant’s full legal name and birth date
- Valid birth certificate
- Social Security number
- Proof of legal U.S. citizenship, OR proof of lawful admittance into or temporary residence within the U.S.
Lastly, each state must also agree to share its database of licensed citizens and drivers with all other states, including every piece of data on the cards themselves (name, address, birth date, etc.), along with all driving records and driver histories of everyone licensed to drive in the state.
The Pros and Cons of REAL ID
Proponents of the REAL ID Act cite its advantages to national security. These measures ensure that non-citizens are unable to obtain a state-issued ID or driver’s license, and also prevent anyone without one from boarding aircraft or entering high-security locations. Similarly, these IDs would place the United States in the company of nearly 100 other countries in the world (including most European countries) that have some form of a national ID card.