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Real ID Act burdens MVA

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Driver's licenses must comply with law by 2008

ANNAPOLIS -- The administrator of the state's Motor Vehicle Administration said yesterday that the agency will need months to figure out how to comply with the federal Real ID Act, recently passed to strengthen anti-terrorist efforts through new requirements for getting driver's licenses.

"There are several issues we feel we need clarification on before we can comply," agency Administrator David Hugel told a House subcommittee. "We have begun consideration of what we must do, but we cannot implement anything without a clearer picture of what is required."

The new federal standards cover a wide range of issues, from the type of information on driver's licenses and ID cards to the kind of documents needed to obtain them.

The act also will require existing license and ID holders as of May 2008 to have cards that comply with the new standards.

Each state has until May 11, 2008, to comply with the act. If a state fails, its residents will be prohibited from using their driver's licenses or ID cards for federal purposes, including boarding an airplane.

To obtain an ID under the new act, applicants must present a photo ID, a document showing their date of birth, documentation of their principal residence and a Social Security number.

Right now, Maryland does not require a Social Security number to obtain an ID card or license. Under the new law, if a person cannot present a number, they will need to show proof from the Social Security Administration that they are eligible.

The new act, passed six months ago, also included a provision that says an official passport is the only foreign document that states can accept.

"This will make it more difficult for immigrants trying to obtain a license or ID card," said Delegate Joseph F. Vallario Jr., Calvert and Prince George's Democrat. "The government is here to help people, and unfortunately, I feel that the MVA tries to discourage people who are from out of the country."

The standards also require that some documents submitted in support of identity be verified through a database. However, Mr. Hugel said the agency does not have that capacity.

The agency "would need to work on a national basis and that won't happen anytime in the near future," he said.

Mr. Hugel also said more employees will be needed to handle the additional responsibilities and that the state will need to provide more money. He did not say how much was needed.