REAL ID Act

By: Rebekah Baum
By: Rebekah Baum

The horror of September 11 2001, opened our eyes to the vulnerability of our nation.

Since that fateful day, our country has been taking steps to enhance national security and the REAL ID Act is one of those measures. The act nationalizes drivers' licenses, every state will be required to verify and store specific identification documents before issuing a license.

"All the information your bring in, it's not good enough anymore if it looks like the real McCoy--we have to verify it. So, that means there's going to have to be a lot of computer systems, local, state and federal computer systems that are talking to each other," says Illinois Inspector General Jim Burns.

Illinois already meets many of the identification and security requirements--including proof of security numbers and using digital photos...but there will be stricter rules for obtaining temporary licenses.

"The reason states will go along with this is because the REAL ID requirements will be necessary for anybody who wants to engage in certain restrictive activity. The activity includes boarding airplanes, entering federal buildings, museums and so forth," says Burns.

Burns says complying with the law will be a huge undertaking and there are still many implementation wrinkles that congress needs to wrinkle out, "For example, "grandfathering," are all of us here going to have to go through the process even though we've been good drivers for many years, we're clearly citizens and so forth, so that issue is open. Can we stagger? Would we have to do this all at once in one year--it would be impossible with the millions of drivers' licenses we have," says Burns.

Burns says the new licenses' will be as counterfeit proof as possible and should help combat the growing problem of identity theft. Several people we spoke to in line at the DMV say they'll welcome the changes.

"The more proof of identity, the more secure we'll be--a little extra work, but it will be worth it," says Linda Prager.

At this point, leaders say it's too early to put a price tag on the changes but Secretary of State Jesse White says the federal government should reimburse states for their expenses.

The REAL ID Act will go into effect in May of 2008.


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