Survey of DMVs by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and report from Governor Warner’s Real ID Task Force indicate that the new law is expensive for taxpayers and impractical.Recently released documents reveal that Virginia state officials are concerned that federal legislation called the Real ID Act will require extensive changes to existing practices at the Department of Motor Vehicles, will be extremely difficult to implement by the Act’s deadline, and will carry heavy expenses that will have to be absorbed by Virginia taxpayers and license applicants. The Act, passed by Congress last spring, imposes federal regulations on the design, issuance and management of state driver’s licenses –turning them, for all practical purposes, into federal identity papers.
“Civil liberties groups, conservative groups, immigration groups have all been saying that Real ID will be a real disaster and needs to be revisited by Congress,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “These new documents show that DMV officials -- the people actually responsible for carrying out this ill-conceived law – are part of the fast-growing opposition to Real ID.”
The survey conducted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) asked state motor vehicle officials to give their views on the Real ID law and to indicate what preparations would be required to comply with it. The results of the AAMVA survey were first reported today by the Associated Press. A copy of the response to the survey from the Virginia DMV was obtained by the ACLU.
The report by Governor Mark Warner’s Task Force on the Real ID Act was released on December 29. The 66-page document-- which calls for Congress to make changes to the Act before requiring implementation -- provides a detailed explanation of the group’s concerns about the cost to taxpayers, privacy infringements, and the burdensome procedures that will make obtaining a license far more difficult and time-consuming for applicants.
In his letter to the Governor on behalf of the Task Force, DMV Commissioner D.B. Smit writes: “In the face of these problems and concerns, Congress must further act. It should provide a fair level of funding if states are to be expected to implement this Act. It should reduce the administrative burden on drivers and ID card holders by limiting paperwork and modifying many of the Act’s more onerous requirements. Finally, it should protect drivers’ personal information by enacting comprehensive privacy protections.”
“Virginia officials are right to be worried,” added Willis. “Real ID not only means a national ID, but also higher taxes and fees, longer lines, repeat visits to the DMV, bureaucratic snafus, and, for a lot of people, the inability to obtain a license. To top it off, it will do little if anything to prevent terrorism.”
Willis noted that the AAMVA survey responses showed that the concerns expressed by Virginia officials are broadly shared by motor vehicles administrators around the United States. For example, no state that responded to the survey seems to believe it is possible in the near future to link all the motor vehicle information databases between all states, as the statute requires. And three in four states reacted with “medium” to “high” concern to Real ID’s extensive new document-verification requirements, which they said would involve major systems changes and increased hiring – and that is assuming that AAMVA or the federal government will build electronic systems for verification.
“These documents are a cry for help,” said Willis. “Fortunately, the opposition to this law is so broad that there is a very good chance that we can force Congress to take it up again.”
“Congress needs to do this right and actually hold hearings, listen to all the different interests and real-world practical difficulties, and give it an up-or-down vote, none of which happened when it was rammed through last spring,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the national ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “Virginians need to join with others around the country and help block this disastrous law before it’s too late.”
The Virginia DMV’s response to the AAMVA survey along with other documents is online at www.realnightmare.org. The Report of the Governor’s Task Force on Real ID is available at www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/temp/pdf/realidreport.pdf.
Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, (Office) 804/644-8022