Real ID Act Implementation Remains Controversial
On May 11, 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act creating national standards for the issuance of state driver's licenses and/or identification cards that had to be in place by May 11, 2008. According to an analysis that was prepared based upon findings from a survey conducted by the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, implementation of the Real ID Act could cost states more than $11 billion over five years. As a result, the States asked that the mandatory implementation date be extended and that the Government provide the funds and electronic systems necessary for States to comply.
In response to the States request, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a temporary reprieve to the states allowing them to delay implementation of the strict requirements until December 31, 2009. The Administration still expects States to begin issuing compliant IDís in May of 2008, but will be expected to replace all 245 million licenses held by Americans on a "reasonably prompt basis" over five years. States that can justify a request for more time could also be granted additional waivers.
The REAL ID Act remains in the news and controversial due to concerns about privacy issues and funding. Nationwide costs of complying with the Act are estimated at 11 to 25 billion dollars over 10 years, and concern has been raised that State DMV offices will be forced to pull resources from other areas, such as title processing and registrations, to comply. To date, Congress has appropriated only 40 million dollars for REAL ID programs. A proposal to provide 300 million dollars in federal funds to help states implement the Act was defeated in the Senate. The failure of Congress to provide significant financial assistance for states to comply with Real ID Act will increase the call by states to either further delay or dismantle the federal program.