Thirteen states meet REAL ID standards, remaining get deadline extension

Fri, 2012-12-21 07:47 AM By: Mark Rockwell

Over a dozen states currently meet the Department of Homeland Security’s REAL ID national identity standards, while the remaining states that don’t currently comply will get extensions to do so come January 15.

DHS said on December 20 that Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, met the REAL ID Act of 2005 standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards. The
In its Dec. 20 statement, DHS commended those states for “the substantial progress in working toward these goals and the improvements in security for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards since 9/11.”

However, the agency said, other states haven’t provided enough information for it to determine if they meet the act’s requirements. It granted a temporary deferment for all other states and territories to respond with additional information before it makes a final determination. DHS said it would continue to receive and review state submissions on a “rolling basis.”

Many states have objected to the law, saying it is too costly and could tangle their motor vehicle departments with extra work, including lengthy background checks on all drivers’ license applicants, and that it carried some privacy rights concerns.
Beginning January 15, 2013, said DHS, states that it finds haven’t met the standards will receive a temporary deferment allowing federal agencies to continue to accept their licenses and identification cards for boarding commercial aircraft, access to federal facilities, and entering nuclear power plants.

DHS said its goal is to implement the REAL ID Act, as required by law, in a measured, fair, and responsible way. It said it would consult with states and stakeholders in the coming weeks and months to develop a schedule for the phased enforcement of the Act’s statutory prohibitions to ensure that residents of all states are treated fairly. DHS said it expects to publish that schedule by early fall 2013 and begin implementation at a “suitable date” afterwards. Until the schedule is implemented, it said, federal agencies can continue to accept driver’s licenses and identity cards issued by all states for official purposes.

The REAL ID Act enacts the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The act was crafted to prevent potential terrorists from using official state identification. The 9/11 hijackers had used state drivers’ licenses, among other bogus ID, to board the airplanes used in the attack.

REAL ID, said DHS, establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes those documents issued by a state unless DHS determines that the state meets the minimum standards.

The agency noted it has twice modified the statutory deadline to allow states more time to meet the statutory requirements of the act in the face of declining state revenues. DHS also noted that between fiscal 2008 and 2011, it awarded $263 million in grants to improve the security of state identification credentials.