DHS Revisiting Validity of State Driver’s Licenses
Depending on which state you lived in, you might have had some trouble getting onto your next flight. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was all set to require states to issue driver’s licenses that complied with the Real ID Act.
If your license didn’t meet those standards, you couldn’t get on your plane.
But as the deadline drew near, the DHS extended their deadline to January 22, 2018, heading off a potential showdown between states and the Transportation Safety Administration at the nation’s airports.
The Real ID Act requires driver’s licenses to incorporate the identification standards set by federal law into their cards. Non-compliance in several key states, such as California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington could’ve created a major hassle for travelers, since the vast majority of citizens use their driver’s licenses as proof of identity at security checkpoints at the nation’s airports. Passengers who had non-compliant licenses would have had to produce another form of government-approved identification, such as a passport.
The Real ID Act requires all states issuing driver’s licenses to include specific details in their cache of information that could be accessed by other states and the government as part of a national database. Among the details required are Social Security Number and immigration status, and the data needs to be accessible via machine readable technology, such as a magnetic strip or chip.
The information will eventually be administered by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, a private organization that works with motor vehicle departments in all 50 states. Privacy advocates are concerned that such linkage between the states could create a greater identity vulnerability than the security issue it seeks to resolve.
According to Ed Hasbrouck of the Identity Project, a privacy advocate, “This is a game of intimidation between Congress and the federal government and the state governments, with ordinary citizens being squeezed in the middle. There has been a stand-off for more than a decade now. The feds have limited powers to coerce the states in this case.”
States already in compliance with the Real ID Act are: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. If you live in one of these states, you’re fine.
If you live in one of the other states, however, you may want to consider getting a passport, just in case.
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Photo’s contents current as of February 2016.