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Approaching Real ID Deadline Challenges States For Compliance

States have until January 15th, 2013, to fully implement the Real ID Act, a law that created a set of national security standards for government-issued IDs. But since being enacted in 2005, the law has been plagued with challenges and resistance from states.

Now, with the deadline looming, some states are bracing for administrative headaches following implementation of the new ID requirements while others are passing bills to opt out of compliance altogether — at least in the short term.

Created as a way to help tighten security and combat ID fraud, the Real ID Act requires tougher rules when it comes to identification documents, such as requiring drivers to show Social Security documents as proof of ID, and no longer allowing expired passports.

After January 15, individuals will need a REAL ID Act-compliant ID in order to enter federal facilities or board commercial air flights, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Non-compliant states can request an extension.

However, the costs for individual states to implement the Act’s security upgrades have resulted in delays and a flurry of legislation as states have chosen to opt out of the federal mandate. In Louisiana, one of a handful of states that are still behind in compliance with the Real ID requirements, residents and workers are bracing for delays as travelers will soon be forced to carry passports to board all flights, including domestic. The state legislature had passed a bill refusing to comply with the new federal standards in 2008, and is currently petitioning Homeland Security for an exception for the state.

In New Jersey, the Motor Vehicle Commission has suspended its efforts to implement a federal driver’s license program, promising the ACLU-NJ that it would conduct a public process if it decides later to alter its licensing requirements to achieve Real ID compliance.

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