January 18, 2008

Ohio Public Safety Spokesman Tom Hunter Says Ohio Has No Plans To Oppose Real ID Act

By Tim Doulin
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ohio plans to start stricter screening in 2010 to meet federal Real ID standards.

Ohio motor-vehicle officials pride themselves on giving you same-day service to get a driver's license, but new federal guidelines prompted by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack might make that convenience a thing of the past.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security yesterday announced the final minimum security standards for state-issued license and identification cards called Real ID, which won't take effect for another two years.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety was busy digesting a 250-plus page document, with an eye toward the impact on customer service and cost.

"Ohioans are accustomed to having the ability to go to a local (Bureau of Motor Vehicle) and get same-day issuance of a license," said Tom Hunter, state public-safety spokesman.

"How will Real ID impact that? At this point, simply, we don't know because we haven't had the opportunity to review the final rules presented by the DHS."

In an attempt to prevent terrorists, con artists and undocumented immigrants from obtaining fake identifications, Real ID sets specific requirements that states must adopt, such as making applicants show proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status, and making state workers verify the documents provided by the applicants.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff noted that the Sept. 11 hijackers obtained 30 driver's licenses and IDs and used more than 350 aliases.

"Real ID will give law-enforcement and security officials a powerful advantage against falsified documents, and it will bring some peace of mind to citizens wanting to protect their identity from theft by a criminal or illegal alien," Chertoff said in a statement released yesterday.

The earliest the program will be implemented is Jan. 1, 2010. At the request of states, the federal government extended the deadline, which had been this May.

Homeland Security wants every American born after Dec. 1, 1964, to have the more secure license by Dec. 1, 2014. For everyone else, the enrollment deadline is expected to be extended to Dec. 1, 2017.

Federal officials expect the program to cost about $3.9 billion nationally, down from a preliminary estimate of about $14.6 billion. They said that was because many states already have implemented more secure procedures and they can phase in the program over time based on age.

It was unclear how much it will cost Ohio to implement the program. Originally, state officials thought it would cost in excess of $40 million, but that was before Homeland Security revised the national figure.

"We will know more about that when we review those rules," Hunter said. "You don't want to pass that cost on to the consumer. It is something we are going to try to avoid at all costs."

Hunter said Ohio has no plans to oppose Real ID.

"At this time, we are going to have to review the final rules to make a determination, but we have been moving full steam ahead with the intent of implementing Real ID in Ohio," Hunter said.

Six states have passed laws prohibiting their residents from complying with the Real ID law.

Not everyone in Ohio is sold on the idea.

"I think there are better things they can spend money on," said Allison Siever, 25, of Hilliard, who was renewing her license yesterday at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office on W. Broad Street.

Ron Caldwell, who was there to replace his driver's license, agreed.

"All our tax dollars go to these extra levels of security which most likely aren't going to do anything anyway," said Caldwell, 56, of the Brewery District.

"Do you know how much health care $3.9 billion could cover?"

A Real ID

• Ohioans born after Dec. 1, 1964, must obtain the new driver's license between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 1, 2014.

• Anyone 50 or older on Dec. 1, 2014, will have until Dec. 1, 2017, to comply.

• After Dec. 1, 2017, you will need the new license for official purposes, including boarding an airplane.

• U.S. citizens must provide documentation that includes name and address, date of birth and Social Security number. Most of that information will be on your old license; if your Social Security number isn't, you will need to bring in your card or obtain a copy.

• Noncitizens must show they are in the country legally with an unexpired visa, a permanent or temporary residence-status card, an approved or pending application for asylum, documents showing refugee status, or a pending or approved application for temporary protected status.

• States say the renewal process will take longer, but Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle officials said they still want to provide same-visit service.

• Your photograph will be taken at the beginning of the application process for a license instead of at the end. If your documentation proves false, officials will have your photo for their records.

• The license will look similar to the one you have now, including anti-tampering or counterfeiting features and machine-readable technology.

• The license is good for up to eight years, although states can require a shorter renewal period.

Sources: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Ohio Department of Public Safety

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