NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 11, 2008

Americans born after Dec. 1, 1964, will have to get more secure driver's licenses in the next six years under ambitious post-9/11 security rules to be unveiled by the Department of Homeland Security.

Under the REAL ID Act:

  • By 2014, anyone seeking to board an airplane or enter a federal building would have to present a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, with the notable exception of those more than 50 years old, Homeland Security officials said.
  • The over-50 exemption was created to give states more time to get everyone new licenses, and officials say the risk of someone in that age group being a terrorist, illegal immigrant or con artist is much less.
  • By 2017, even those over 50 must have a REAL ID-compliant card to board a plane.

Other details:

  • The traditional driver's license photograph would be taken at the beginning of the application instead of the end so that an applicant's photo would be on file even if they were rejected for failure to prove identity and citizenship.
  • The cards will have three layers of security measures but will not contain microchips. Individual states will be able to choose security measures from a menu.

Most states now check Social Security numbers and about half of states check immigration status.  Some, like New York, Virginia, North Carolina and California, already have implemented many of the security measures envisioned in REAL ID.  In California, for instance, officials expect the only major change to adopt the first phase would be to take the photograph at the beginning of the application process instead of the end.

Source: "New rules for driver's licenses," USA Today, January 10, 2008.

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